SOMSD Elementary Students Participate in Maplewood Library’s ‘Kids Speak Out’

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The following is a press release from SOMSD:

 MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – South Orange & Maplewood School District librarians and elementary school students participated in the Maplewood Library’s Kids Speak Out event. The event was a celebration of Black History Month that encouraged students to express themselves through spoken word, poetry, and art. All of the District’s elementary schools were represented by works that were either presented or on display at the library.

“I want to give my sincere thanks to all of the students who contributed their talents to the Maplewood Library’s Kids Speak Out event,” said Dr. Kevin F. Gilbert, Acting Superintendent of the South Orange and Maplewood School District. “I am also deeply grateful to the many educators, librarians, and media specialists who worked with our students, and to the parents and guardians who supported their children in participating. To have all of our elementary schools represented in this community event is very special. Thank you to you all.”

“We had a wonderful response to this year’s event,” said Maplewood Library Head of Children’s Services Jane Folger. “All of the SOMSD elementary schools participated, and students courageously lined up at the microphone to be heard by a crowd of over 150 people, including Maplewood Mayor Nancy Adams and members of the Township Committee.  Hearing the voices of our young community members was an inspiring and uplifting experience for everyone.”

Seth Boyden Elementary School students with students with Tuscan Library Media Specialist Janine Poutre.

Fifth-graders from Delia Bolden Elementary School spoke about their identity, the need to see others for who they are and to embrace all people. Other Delia Bolden third, fourth, and fifth graders expressed themselves through a variety of art forms including identity charts with thought bubbles and blackout poems that were a part of the event. Blackout poetry is created by a poet who takes an existing text and erases or blacks out a part of the text to make a whole new work from what remains.

Their participation in the event was aided by Delia Bolden Library Media Specialist Teresa Quick, who led the effort to document students’ thoughts with the help of the Delia Bolden school community.

Clinton Elementary School students read poetry and displayed their blackout poems.

SOMSD Elementary Library Media Specialists. From left: Janine Poutre of Seth Boyden Elementary School, Teresa Quick of Delia Bolden Elementary School, Jennifer Latimer of Clinton Elementary School, Maria Kazanis of Marshall Elementary School, and Amy Popp of Tuscan Elementary School.

“Providing students with a recycled book page provides them with a word bank,” said Jennifer Latimer, Clinton Elementary School Library Media Specialist. “From there they can connect words and phrases, form greater meaning, and honor the life of Dr. King.”

Marshall Elementary School students shared their artwork that was inspired by the style of Alma Woodsey Thomas. They used her abstract model to express their creativity, exuberance, and joy.

“I was inspired to share the story of Alma Woodsey Thomas,” said Marshall Library Media Specialist Maria Kazanis. “Her piece, entitled ‘Resurrection’ was chosen as the first artwork by a black woman to be added to the White House permanent collection.

Tuscan Elementary School fourth and fifth-grade students wrote cinquain poems (poems with five lines) that expressed their desire for peace and harmony among all people in the world.

Tuscan Elementary School students with students with Tuscan Library Media Specialist Amy Popp.

“It was wonderful to have students share their poetry with the community,” said Tuscan Library Media Specialist Amy B. Popp. “Additionally, it was heartwarming to listen to their poems for peace in the world.”

Seth Boyden Elementary School fourth-graders presented their writings, which were inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Their teacher, Shella Villard, worked with the students on their written works. Portraits of King were displayed, which were created by Seth Boyden fourth-graders with the help of Art Teacher Tahj Howard reflected the students’ dreams and how they could achieve them.

Allison Garcia Pedrosa’s second-grade class’s Peace Gallery and Susan Brody’s first-grade students’ writings about dreams for peace in the world were also on display.

“I’m so proud of all the hard work of our Seth Boyden students,” said Seth Boyden School Library Media Specialist Janine Poutre.

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