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Paige Kirkham used to be the poet laureate of her sixth-grade class in West Linn. Now she might be on her way to becoming poet laureate of Texas. by: SUBMITTED - PAIGE KIRKHAM

The 13-year-old seventh-grader won first prize from the Poetry Society of Texas with her poem "Sandy Hook Legacy." Due to winning that honor, she is now eligible for the Manningham Award for 2014, a competition for young poets across the nation.

In relatively few, well-chosen and sensitive words, she touchingly summed up the shock, grief and loss experienced in the killing of 26 children in December of last year in New Jersey.

"I was touched by what happened," Kirkham said. "I felt so strongly about it that I wanted to put it into words."

Kirkham's friends back in West Linn are not surprised at her success in her first year of living in the Lone Star State.

"I've been writing poetry since the third grade," she said. "I went to Stafford (Primary) and Athey Creek Middle School. Mrs. Bondy, my sixth-grade teacher, called me the poet laureate of our class."

Kirkham has now taken her writing talents to Sabian Middle School in McKinney, a town that appreciates good poetry.

"I like the weather a lot in Texas," Kirkham said. "But I miss my friends in West Linn. I know they're proud of me for winning."

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