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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Students gain confidence to perform for others during Starbucks workshops

When Elementary School Program Coordinator Rachel Klepper visited Seaton Elementary School’s DC SCORES classroom in September, a 9-year-old student named Rubi C. kept to herself — refusing to read her poetry.

Fast forward to early November and a Starbucks on Capitol Hill, where one of 12 students has gotten up from their seat to read aloud a poem for peers and store patrons.


“When I went the last time, she wouldn’t share,” Klepper said afterward smiling.

Rubi isn’t the only Seaton student who has come out of their shell during the fall season — and especially at Starbucks that afternoon. One by one, each student put down their complimentary hot chocolate and strode to the middle of the upstairs room to read.

After each performance, the semicircle of students watching snapped their fingers and then answered two questions.

“What did you like about the poem?”

“Do you have any advice for next time?”

Perla C. got up and read “Recipe for Soccer.”

When asked for advice, one student said, “A little slower.” Another added, “A little louder.”

The next student read “Education,” a tremendous poem about the power of learning.

“That could be a solo!” Seaton writing coach Gloria Pieiro-Landing exclaimed. A student added that she liked “that when she was reading she looked up.”

When everyone was done reading and the room was full of good vibes and positive energy, Klepper asked each student to read a line from their poem combined with a movement — another form of self-expression.

“I’m a person,” a girl read while pointing at herself, “who will stand up for others!” she finished while stomping on the carpet.

“I’m a person who hates segregation,” another girl read while crossing one arm over the other and then pushing them outward.

Seaton is one of several schools that has visited a Starbucks with Klepper this fall to work on their performance technique and standing up in front of an audience. The workshops will undoubtedly help during the 16th Annual DC SCORES Poetry Slam! on Dec. 4-5 when students are tasked with reading memorized poems in front of hundreds of people.

As Seaton’s students walked out of Starbucks, they all thanked the store’s employees for hosting them and the free hot chocolates. Unbeknownst to the workers, the students had also gained something much more valuable than a beverage from the experience.

The confidence to perform in front of an audience.

“What I learned at Starbucks is that when we get to the Poetry Slam! we should not be nervous, and to memorize our poems,” fourth-grader Makiya G. said, “because if we have a book and we look down the person will not hear us.”

Starbucks is a long-time partner of DC SCORES and has hosted poetry reading workshops at its District locations for several years.

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