“I matter because of the bright red A+ I got on my algebra test.

I matter because my parents have enough green dollar bills to put food on the table

And presents under the Christmas Tree. I matter because I do what I am told,

And I color within the lines, to make sure no one could ever possibly think

That I am an outcast, who sits alone at their lunch table.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

I matter because of the color of the skin on my face,

And how my hair falls nicely around my shoulders.

My nails are clean.

My clothes are untattered, and fit within the fashion trends.

I am thin and pretty and people like me.

That’s why I matter.

Because I am almost perfect in enough ways, so no one could tell if I wasn’t.”

This is just a part of an award-winning poem titled “Why Do I Matter?” by Ordean East Middle School eighth grader Molly McNamee.

Molly took first place at state in her age group in literature for the Minnesota PTA Reflections Program. She took second place at the national level, where she was the only Minnesota student to receive an award in any category.

The National PTA’s Reflections program focuses on arts and encourages students to “explore their talents and express themselves.” Students can submit work in one or all of the six categories: dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts.

The 2020-21 theme was “I Matter Because.”

Molly McNamee holds a copy of her poem “Why Do I Matter?” on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Molly McNamee holds a copy of her poem “Why Do I Matter?” on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

“I started out with the question 'Why do I matter?' and kind of went through the process of trying to answer that question. Then I realized that I really didn’t know the answer,” Molly said. “The poem that I wrote was me going through why it doesn’t always feel like why we matter and eventually ending on the conclusion of why we do.”

Molly said she tried to delve deep into what society tells people matters and how that isn’t always truthful.

“I really tried to figure it out because we’re told that we all should matter, but it doesn’t always come out that way,” she said. “People are often treated like they matter more than others or don’t matter more than others, and I wanted to get to why that was.”

Molly McNamee reads her poem “Why Do I Matter?” on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Molly McNamee reads her poem “Why Do I Matter?” on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Molly feels she was able to get to that point with her poem.

“I know that each of us has the potential to change our world.

Regardless of whether we get F’s or A’s.

Regardless of whether we are black or white.

Regardless of whether we are poor or rich.

Regardless of everything else.

We can make a difference. And I know that matters.”

Molly said she doesn’t really remember loving writing that much in elementary school, but in fourth grade she fell in love with reading and wanted to be able to create stories.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to make a difference in some way, and if writing my thoughts and ideas about how I feel about the world is a way that I can effectively do that then that’s what I’m going to do,” she said.

 Mother Dana and Molly McNamee share a laugh Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Mother Dana and Molly McNamee share a laugh Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Molly’s mother, Dana McNamee, said she couldn’t be more proud of her daughter’s writing and accomplishments.

“She’s very good at expressing her thoughts,” Dana said. “She does a great job at seeing her emotions and how she wants to change things.”

Dana did say most of what Molly writes makes her want to cry but in a good way.

“She wrote me a beautiful Mother’s Day poem and it made me cry,” Dana said. “She’s just really good at using her words.”

Molly McNamee
Molly McNamee