Keep Calm and Nina Strong

Jacqueline Fernous

Staff Writer

Seymour student, Nina Poeta, passed away peacefully at the age of 17 on November 1 due to an inoperable cancerous brain tumor.

She was born on May 9, 1997 in Seymour. She always enjoyed keeping up with her big sister and older cousins. As a child, Poeta enjoyed playing soccer and did competitive gymnastics for nine years before being urged by friends, family, and coaches to try cheerleading.

She loved cheering so much that when she entered freshman year, she gave up both soccer and competitive gymnastics to pursue cheerleading full time for Seymour High.

Poeta had always been a bubbly person and had an infectious laugh. Poeta won many superlative awards throughout her schooling. Some awards included, “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day,” “Most Outgoing,” and she had recently been elected “Prom Queen” in May.  Poeta also spent a lot of time fundraising for annual mission trips with her youth group. Friends and family describe Poeta as “kind and generous, beautiful from the inside out.”

Poeta was diagnosed with brain cancer just one year ago and told News 8 that it would not stop her from leading a normal teenage life. From the start of her illness, the town of Seymour rallied together in support of the young teen. A Facebook page was created called “Poeta Strong” where friends, family, and strangers could leave get-well wishes to Poeta and her family, and to also update readers on Poeta’s health and well-being.

Ansonia fans show their support for Nina Poeta at the Ansonia-Seymour football game on October 2. Courtesy of


One very notable thing the Seymour community did for the Poeta family included buying a wheelchair accessible van to transport Poeta to doctor appointments and various other activities. The van was decorated with pink decals saying “Keep calm and Nina Strong.”

Along with buying the family a new van, the Seymour community organized a benefit dinner and silent auction in Waterbury on November 21. Many people also created shirts and bracelets in honor and support of Poeta and her family.

Those that knew Poeta say that she truly left a mark on everyone she met. She was an outstanding student and athlete. James Freund, principal of Seymour High School, says she was “always smiling and had a lot of friends. She was an awesome kid.”

Reading the many articles about Nina Poeta’s tragic story also showed there was a silver lining in her situation and many other situations similar to hers. Although the end of Poeta’s story was heartbreaking, she was able to inspire residents from Seymour and several other surrounding towns to create a very strong support system. She taught people to never take life for granted and to appreciate life and live to the fullest no matter how much time you may have left on Earth. Poeta kept a positive attitude until the end, which is a truly admirable trait to have, especially for someone who had every excuse in the world to give up. Nina Poeta was a truly outstanding person who will be remembered dearly and fondly.