Despite threatening rain clouds, Syracuse Junior High School students put aloft Wednesday more than 400 poems suspended inside helium-filled balloons hoping they'll brighten somebody's day when they return.

Ann Marcusen, head of the English department, created the project to help her ninth-grade students celebrate National Poetry Week and share their work with others."Many didn't want to let the balloons go," Marcusen said.

Every 40 minutes, orange and blue balloons, prepared by students like Meredith Flint from West Point, were blown from the school yard. Flint wrote a poem about music.

"I wrote about what it's like and how I feel about it when I listen to it," Flint said. "I hope when they read it they feel about music how I feel."

Jill Zaugg, Syracuse, said she wrote about the mountains. She said it would probably end up in the Great Salt Lake, but she hoped somebody in California might read it.

Carl Hellewell, Syracuse, believes somebody in Las Vegas might get his poem about world peace.

"I think world peace is something that needs to be more closely looked at and paid more attention to," he said.

For some it wasn't world peace but world leaders who had their attention. Bryan Austad, Syracuse, sent up a poem about being bald - a piece he hopes Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev gets.

"All my friends told me I wrote it because I got a short haircut, but that's not the reason," he said.

Marcusen told her students she will give them extra credit if people write back in response to the poems. The students were asked to put their names and addresses on the poems. The school's PTA provided the balloons and helium.

Outside the weeklong project to write and send the poems into the sky, classes also heard from cowboy poet Ray Lashley, a Syracuse rancher decked in leather and a cowboy hat, who has committed a slate of poems to memory.

"We never heard the same one during all of the different classes," Marcusen said.

"It's great to see the students get high about an academic activity," said school principal Dr. Jim Schmidt.