• Dining Room

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

"What John F. Kennedy Means to Me" Annual Essay and Poetry Program

An author of a winning essay stands to receive recognition from the crowd.
Collage of rangers teaching lessons and students participating in the program

The 29th annual "What John F. Kennedy Means to Me" Essay and Poetry Program kicked off in early May with class visits to John F. Kennedy National Historic Site on May 3 and 6, 2013. This year, eighty-six students from the Edward Devotion School in Brookline took part in an inquiry-based tour of the president's boyhood home and neighborhood to uncover stories that help explain Kennedy's rise to presidency and his enduring belief in people's power to affect change.

Next students visited John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum where they explored exhibits to learn about John F. Kennedy's family background, political campaigns, and the highlights and accomplishments of his presidency.

With a wealth of primary-source based information from the Birthplace and Library experiences in hand, students returned to the classroom to begin writing essays on what John F. Kennedy means to them. With essay writing underway, park rangers then visited classrooms to lead poetry writing workshops to help each class produce a poem that captured their impressions of the neighborhood boy who became president.

Class poems and winning essays, selected by students through blind peer review, were revealed on May 29, 2013 at a well-attended public ceremony which was held at the Edward Devotion School because plans for an outdoor ceremony in front of the presidential birthplace were dashed by rain. During the ceremony, students shared their impressions of the president, expressed their personal goals with respect to community building, and were encouraged to realize their own potential as leaders and citizens with the power to shape the world.

The National Park Service congratulates all of the participants of this years "What John F. Kennedy Means to Me" program, and is pleased to invite virtual visitors to use the links below to read the class poems and winning essays from the 2013 program and prior years. Also be sure to check out the slide shows of photos from the 2013 and 2012 ceremonies.


"A Poem Made for JFK" by Ms. Albertini's class
"The Boy Who Became President" by Ms. Bordieri's class
"John F. Kennedy’s Life" by Ms. Driscoll's class
"The 35th President" by Ms. French's class


Photo of essay winners

Ms. Albertini
Tulliver Lines, runner-up
Audrey Gilpin, winner

Ms. Bordieri
Dorin Artzi, runner-up
Sophie Harris, winner

Ms. Driscoll
Samuel Lee, runner-up
Max Jepsen, winner

Ms. French
Olivier Armand, runner-up
Leehy Gertner, winner



Images on this page courtesy of NPS, Kennedy NHS. Second photo from the top by Matt Teuten. Photos in the photo gallery are by Matt Teuten.

Did You Know?

John F. Kennedy's childhood adventure books.

As a child, Jack was sick a lot. He escaped his sick-bed by reading adventure books. Through reading, he developed a vivid imagination that he drew on as president to create the Peace Corps, launch the space race, & mold a sweeping Civil Rights Bill. As president, how would you use YOUR imagination?