The purpose of outreach through the WAPS Council is to find collaborative activities that are meaningful/creative/active that bring students from different schools together to share and learn from each other and about themselves. This is an opportunity to build bridges between schools, and to foster relationships between kids from a variety of backgrounds. We take this opportunity to incorporate art, poetry and outdoor activities in positive ways.
The “Inside Out” program began in 2014, as a way to foster a creative exchange and create community, between the students at Regina Street Public School and WAPS. Principals and teachers from both schools sign on to encourage community building between these schools. In 2018 we hope to welcome an additional school to participate.
In the spring, Brandon Wint, a nationally known spoken word poet, comes into each classroom multiple times, at each school. While previously offered from grades 2-4, generally this program is provided to grade three students. Brandon teaches the children about poetry, and encourages them to write 1) group poems that incorporate all of the kids’ ideas, and 2) individual or small group poems about things that inspire/appeal to them. The kids learn about rhythm, organization, collaboration and expressing themselves through poetry. This also fits into the required curriculum for students.
In June, WAPS students travel to RSPS to meet in person. They play games, hike together to explore Mud Lake, and share their poetry in small groups. They also share the autobiographical visual art projects (“I Am” boards) they worked on in their classrooms. The students receive cold treats, and a poetry booklet with their poems and pictures of their experience.
The intention is for these kids to learn about kids from another school, and possibly carry these relationships forward in future years. Many of these students will eventually go to high school together. Fostering relationships and self-expression builds community, self-esteem, and hopefully the understanding that they are more the same than different.
Our budget increased to $2000.00 this year with the expectation that a third school will participate. This amount covers the cost of Brandon Wint’s classroom visits and the trip to RSPS in June (including photocopying of booklets and cold treats). We are beyond grateful for the dedication of the teachers and principals at participating schools.
Below are two examples of the work created by our student poets about nature.
Walking through a snowy forest
with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand
I saw a snowshoe hare hopping along the snowy path
a wooly grey wolf was hiding
among the blistery white
then he jumped out to give that baby hare a fright.
At Mud Lake I see great big maple trees
They’re the most graceful things I’ve ever seen.
Grey, baby squirrels are scampering,
through the leaves, as I feel a gentle breeze.
The sun is shining into the warm water
Oh, how I wish I could stay there longer.
Brandon’s message to the students:
“Poetry can be important. Poetry, or the choice to experiment with words, can teach you so, so, much about the world you live in.
I use poetry to help me understand the things I think and feel, and also to celebrate the things I am grateful for.
I encourage you, if you like words, to continue playing with them until you discover something new and interesting about the world, or about yourself. ”.