Jescent Marcelino

Jescent Marcelino immigrated from the Philippines in 2019. She is the first runner up in the 2021 Inaugural Daly City Youth Poet Laureate and 2022 San Mateo County Poetry Out Loud competitions. Her work has appeared in the anthology, I Have a Dream: Inaugural Poems for a New Generation. She has also been featured in “Celebrating Young Poets” produced by The Midpen Media Center. Jescent’s poem, “Dear Jefferson High School,” was presented at Jefferson High School’s centennial celebration, Jefferson High School: “100 Years of Us” in March 2022.

Poem on Belonging

DEAR JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL,

Here’s my love letter to you.
The first time I saw you,
I was scared and unsure
I was the new kid carrying big dreams.
The one who traveled thousands of miles to be here. 
I often wondered if I was enough,
but my teachers showed me that I am more than a label.
That Jeff is home and home is working together
to be the best people we can be.
But we never thought these halls would be empty in 2020.
That we would know forced isolation and loss.
At that moment, all the world seemed to fit on a screen.
We were faces on little black squares
zooming through the whole school year 
using little icons to plant seeds of friendship,
private messages to stay connected.
But we got through it.
We’re the Grizzlies. We can get through anything.

We’re from percussion and brass, and woodwinds vibrating.
From K Building, Little Theater and gym.
We’re from debates about hotdogs, 
and the scent of bread and soup around J Building.
We’re from royal blue and majestic gold,
from skateboards and scooters in the attendance office.
We’re from culinary arts and GSA Club,
from “Hope” and “What Matters Most”.
We’re from the friendships we formed and the memories we make.
We’re from Mission Fusion and ASB,
from digital arts and the Grizzly News Network.
We’re from a tradition of uplifting people and creating spaces for peace.
We’re from excellence through equity,
and one hundred years of community. 

Copyright © 2022 by Jescent Marcelino. Used with permission of the author.

(L-R): Jescent reading her poem, “Dear Jefferson High School”; with friends; with Congresswoman Jackie Speier (Photos by Victoria Maier Magbilang)