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story.lead_photo.caption St. Peter Interparish School teacher Mrs. Jane Schneider holds Sully Adkisson's Bat Garden on Thursday as he reads his poem inspired by his creation at the Garden Club Poetry reading. Photo by Ken Barnes / News Tribune.

After seeing a flyer for a local poetry contest, a special education teacher was inspired to create a teaching opportunity that allowed her students to be creative in more ways than one.

Jane Schneider, of St. Peter Interparish School, had her students create themed dish gardens using an assortment of items. As they created their gardens, they wrote acrostic poems where the first letter in each line spelled out the theme.

Bittersweet Garden Club and Capital Garden Club honored the first place winners of the Federated Garden Club of Missouri Youth Poetry Contest on Thursday at the Hawthorn Bank Community Room. This year's theme was "Adventures in the Garden."

Six of Schneider's students won first place: Will Bidlack, Sully Adkisson, Rylee Tucker, Jackson Briesacher, Emma Heimericks and Anneliese Careaga. In addition, two won honorable mentions: Wyatt Boessen and Sophia Backues.

Each winner won a certificate and monetary award. The themes they chose were Halloween, Christmas, princess, Kansas City Chiefs, spider and bat.

Schneider said this project was a great way for students to be creative and to show them writing can be fun.

"It's all about writing, thinking outside the box, being able to come up with ways that they can find it interesting," she said. "Because we have all different types of disabilities, so it's a type of thing that fits each disability, because each one has different benchmarks. And they just had fun with it, and that's the whole key is to teach them not to be afraid of writing."

Schneider, who has taught special education for 35 years, said special education students typically don't get recognition outside of the school. She submitted the poems and photos of the students with their gardens in the fall, so she assumed they didn't win, she said.

When she received a call recently saying six of her students won first place, she was so excited. She said she is happy her students are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

"It's wonderful," she said. "It makes my heart feel good when they win, because they put a lot of work into it."

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