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Monday, October 14, 2013

Inside the notebook at Imagine Hope Community Charter School, Part II: Writing about hope

Each week throughout the fall DC SCORES season, I will be accompanying the students of the Tolson campus of Imagine Hope Charter on their journey through DC SCORES' Power of Poetry curriculum. This will include weekly content posted on TwitterInstagramFlickr, and this blog. Follow these talented kids as they learn to express themselves through one of the purest forms of art. You can stay in touch with me by following me on Twitter at @DCSCORESInterns and @DCSCORES. Enjoy!

-- Brady Smithsund, Fall 2013 Intern


Writing about hope!
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon I arrived at Imagine Hope Tolson for week two of my journey through the poetry season with the new program school. Though the skies were gray and the roads slick, the inclement weather didn’t stop the motivated DC SCORES students from writing as many poems as they could.

Last week, Mr. Clemons (@MisterClemons) led the students in creating acrostic poems using the word SCORES. Emphasizing themes such as leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship, the students crafted terrific poems considering their inexperience with creative writing and age.

This week, the message was hope. What do we hope for? Who do we hope to be? How can we provide hope for others? These were all questions the students tackled with enthusiasm.

The students were lucky to learn from one of DC’s renowned poets, special guest Jonathan Tucker. A performance poet, teaching artist, educator, and coach of the DC Youth Poetry Slam Team, Tucker was a hit with the kids. Listening attentively, everyone was captured by the power of Tucker’s poetry. Reading a handful of his own poems with various themes, Tucker taught the students about many different types of poetry.

As he finished reading, Tucker brought up the theme. “What is hope?” he asked. This prompted a lot of chatter among the kids. I heard many say they didn’t know what hope was, or didn’t know any examples of it. I wondered how they would respond to this very open-ended question.

Almost immediately, one girl got up from her seat and gave her opinion on the subject. “I hope we win the championship!” she said, referring to the soccer part of DC SCORES. “I hope our grades get better!”

With Jonathan Tucker, professional poet and teacher.
What a great response! I could really see the athletic and academic motivation from not only her but all the students. They were motivated to express their desire to succeed on the soccer field through poetry, using a pencil and paper.  To see the youth inspired to write poetry in addition to playing soccer — not to mention about the program! — means DC SCORES is working. It means that the students are getting the messages that coaches such as Mr. Clemons are trying to convey.

By the end of the writing session, many students had completed their own works of poetry about hope, about what they wish for.

After another successful week, the students left the classroom filled with hope. After writing new, uplifting poems, each kid left wanting more. After one last group picture with Tucker, week two was in the bag. Until next week!

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