Nynchoyha Pitt didn’t speak until she was five years old. She’s making up for it now.
The Riverview High student was recently crowned winner of Hillsborough County’s High School Poetry Jam. The crown is an easy fit. Nynchoyha also won the 2013 poetry jam. It’s the first time in the nine-year history of the event that a student has won the contest twice.
“Nynchoyha is very creative and a great writer,” said Jill Driver, a media specialist at Riverview. “She’s also very enthusiastic and respectful. Poetry is really her forte.”
Sponsored by county high schools and the Hillsborough Arts Council, the poetry jam was held Dec. 15 in Tampa. The winners were determined by a panel of adults and students. Rebecca Nelson from Blake High School took silver in the event and King High’s Jamie Dawson collected the bronze.
Writing poetry since she was a youngster, Nynchoyha’s talent was first spotted by her fourth-grade teacher.
“We had to write an essay about who was the most important person in the world to us, and I wrote about my mom,” Nynchoyha said. “Then my teacher read it and saw that it was in the form of a poem, and she told me to start writing more poetry.”
Angel Lilly, Nynchoyha’s mother, couldn’t be more proud of her daughter.
“She’s always trying to elevate herself,” her mom said. “She’s a winner. I always tell her you never finish learning. I knew she was going to win as soon as she read the poem,” Lilly said. “The amazing thing is that she didn’t speak until she was five years old and to overcome all of that is incredible. Now she corrects me.”
A senior at Riverview, Nynchoyha plans to attend Hillsborough Community College before transferring to the University of South Florida, where she plans to study education with a view to becoming a teacher. “My English teacher once let me teach our class, and I just fell in love with it from that very moment.”
Nynchoyha enjoys not only the writing but the performing aspect of reading poetry to an audience. She’s a member of Heard ’Em Say Teen Poetry, which meets on the last Friday of the month at the Mocha Brown Coffee Lounge, 428 West Waters Ave., for a teen poetry night.
The group was established in 2007 to provide local youth with a healthy social outlet to express themselves and promote growth of self-esteem, written and oral communication, networking, social tolerance and cultural understanding through the art of spoken word poetry.
Riverview principal Danielle Shotwell said Nynchoyha’s victory illustrates the wealth of talent at the school.
“It is amazing how many talented students we have here at Riverview. I am so proud to be able to lead such an amazing group of young men and women,” Shotwell said.
Nynchoyha Pitt’s winning poem:
My Name Was Dropout
All I felt was gleaming lights,
Stabbing at my body as sweat rolled down my face,
Every step feels like I’m lifting bricks,
Every thought feels like I’m only wishing for this,
An as I built up enough courage to finally approach that stage,
Like a baby releasing her first words I’m keeping a steady heartbeat,
This will be the first time greatest explodes into the palm of my hands while lifting my family mistakes off my shoulders,
See this will be a victory that’s more meaniful than life,
Because its time to explore the adventures of becoming a…Drop Out!
You define me as,
Quick to multiply and throw up the words out your mouth as if my failures was the most disgusting taste you’ve ever had,
You reaction is as quick as I can release a frizbee out the palm of my hands and hope it lands into them hands of purpose,
I am sorry,
That my life wasn’t equivalent to walking across that stage and receiving a diploma,
I am sorry,
That my life wasn’t equivalent to seeing teardrops run down my grandma face and praying to God that she is proud,
I am sorry,
That my life wasn’t equivalent to reaching the American Dream,
A dream that wasn’t even set up for the minorities to achieve,
But at the age of 19 I married life,
See I felt a kick in my stomach that couldn’t be put on the back burner any longer,
I had 8 aching mouths and stomachs dependent on me,
My father was addicted to crack,
My mother did anything to make it through the darkness,
But how can you when you starving and living in poverty,
I was born in the setback,
I was born in the hurt,
No matter how much education I could have gotten it couldn’t stop my family from the years of pain and struggle,
BANG PUBLIC ASSISTANCE,
BANG POOR HEATH,
BANG SINGLE PARENTS,
BANG BANG BANG,
Oops I should have been dead at the age of 5,
Before I dropped out,
Before I copped out,
Laying on my side hunger pains hurting so bad I think I’m about to pass out,
Invisible chains on my wrist I already been locked out of … society,
Before they even had the chance to inhale my story,
How 50% of African American and Hispanics will drop out,
Every 29 seconds a student will drop out,
1 million Americans will drop out,
And how do you think that makes me feel?
When this country will pray on individuals failures instead of push them towards success,
I have a jungle,
Juggling inside the thrust of my body saying,
I gave up,
I messed up,
But I realize education is the passport to this galaxy of a real world that we live in,
That success comes with struggles but determination will cure it all,
My name was drop out,
Because my story doesn’t end here,
If anything … It begins here