There were several errors in a story last week on an Arlington pupil who won an award in a national haiku poem contest. The principal of Taylor Elementary School is Ralph Stone. Victor Nguyen-Long, the student who won the award, is a third grader. The teacher refrred to in the story is Eula Williams. Williams, a retired school teacher, is a substitute teacher who works as a reading instructor at the school. (Published 2/25/88)
An Arlington second grader has won an elementary school category award in a national Haiku poem contest.
A haiku is a Japanese verse form of three unrhymed lines containing a total of 17 syllables. The subject usually pertains to some aspect of nature.
Eight-year-old Victor Nguyen-Long, who attends Taylor Elementary School, met with Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles; Takayuki Kimura, the consul general of Japan; Japanese Ambassador Nobou Matsunago, and a host of reporters last week to receive his award.
Victor's poem was one of more than 16,000 entries nationwide. Victor and two other elementary school students, one from Japan and one from Florida, won prizes in the elementary school category. There were 10 winners in the junior high school, senior high school and the adult division categories. The contest is sponsored annually by the consulate general of Japan and the Cotton Blossom Haiku Club in Atlanta.
At the ceremony, Baliles announced the formation of the Virginia-Japan Society, designed to enhance cultural awareness and foster positive relations between Virginians and the Japanese.
The title of Victor's winning haiku is "Fall," which he said was written on a cold day in late December. "I was staring out of my window trying to think of an idea and I came up with 'Fall' because of the weather." Victor said the poem took an hour to complete "after having some difficulties."
"It was a day that every parent should have an opportunity to experience with their child," said Ralph Scott, principal at Taylor. "We are definitely proud," he said. Victor's teacher, Eura Williams, received an award for her efforts.
Victor's poem was one of 200 submitted by Taylor pupils. A panel of educators in the United States selected the best poems for the finals, which were then sent to a master of haiku in Japan, who picked the winners, according to officials.
John and Thuy Nguyen-Long, Victor's parents, said they are excited about his accomplishments in poetry. They said they detected his artistic abilities as soon as he was able to pick up a pencil.
"When he was 4 years old, he would come home from school every day and work on his drawings," said John Long. He said his son's artistic talents were probably influenced by his wife, a graphic artist, and Victor's grandfather who, according to Long, is a noted brush painter in Vietnam.
"People can't believe it," Long said of his son's paintings. "In fact when he was 7, Victor painted a picture of his grandma . . . and neighbors, family and friends all swore that it was done by my wife." Last year, Victor was admitted into a special program for Gifted Children in the Arts offered by Taylor.
Amid the public fanfare surrounding the contest, Victor has managed to keep his cool. His long-term goals are "to be a good man and an artist. I draw a lot," he said.
But in the short term, Victor is looking forward to one special day, March 14. That's when he will celebrate his 9th birthday. "I just can't wait."
Victor's haiku reads:
A deer runs through the
woods with the silence of night
snow flakes start falling