From the South Orange-Maplewood School District:
On Saturday, February 9, 2019, the Maplewood Library hosted Kids Speak Out!, an annual event held during Black History Month that showcases the work of elementary students from the South Orange-Maplewood School District. This event encourages students to express themselves through the spoken word, poetry, and art to celebrate Black History Month. Poetry and artwork from all of the elementary schools was on display for all to admire.
Jane Folger, Head of the Children’s Department at the Maplewood Library, remarked, “This was a uniquely fun event where students had the opportunity to speak out and be heard by their community. All the kids had amazingly profound things to say about the world, about fairness, about compassion, and about themselves. The program opened with an oration by Jefferson School 5th grader Naomi Abrams, who recited (from memory) the entirety of Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again. It was a stellar performance that touched every heart in the room. Eleanor Levy, another Jefferson 5th grader, spoke about her work with the autistic inclusion multi age class.”
Clinton School students read poetry and displayed their “blackout” poems. Jennifer Latimer, Clinton Library Media Specialist, said, “The Kids Speak Out event is a unique opportunity for students around the district to come together and share their accomplishments. It provides valuable public speaking experience for our youngest students who might not otherwise have a platform for their messages.”
Students from Marshall School, under the leadership of Library Media Specialist, Maria Kazanis, shared their beautiful Alma Woodsey Thomas artwork with the audience. “First and second graders were inspired by her art to create eclipse images in mosaic form. It was encouraging to see so many of my students and I was especially proud how they were able to verbally express themselves about their art in front of an audience,” remarked Kazanis.
Tuscan School students, who ranged in age from third through fifth grade, read “I Am” poems as well as haiku poetry that highlighted their unique qualities and desire for peace in the world. Library Media Specialist, Amy B. Popp, noted, “It was wonderful to have so many students share their poetry with the community. Additionally, it was heartwarming to listen to all of their diverse stories and messages for peace in the world.”
Seth Boyden third graders from Mrs. Cadine Gray’s class contributed their art and writing showing their own dreams for the future alongside Dr. King’s dream. “Their dreams are deeper and reach farther than one would expect from children this age!” stated Janine Poutre, Seth Boyden School Library Media Specialist.
South Mountain students from Ms. Gutkin/Ms. Leone’s 5th Grade Class shared their amazing poems dealing with Civil Rights and Social justice. Cathy Campbell, South Mountain School Library Media Specialist, remarked, “This is a wonderful event for the students to share their thoughts and feelings with everyone.”
This is the fourth year that Maplewood Library has held this event. It is a wonderful gathering that showcases the talent of students in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. In turn, students benefited greatly from having the opportunity to share their work with the community.