Grade-school poets to present works | NevadaAppeal.com

Grade-school poets to present works

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal From left, Casey Cathey, 8, Anali Diaz, 11, and Yesenia Garcia, 8, react to 10-year-old Kelly Guzzetta's poetry reading at Mark Twain Elementary school during rehearsal on Thursday. First-grade teacher Tracy Schmid has been leading 22 students in the "Poetry Alive" program.

Grant Brewer has some interesting things to say about his uncle.

Fortunately for the fifth-grader, his uncle lives in Sparks and won’t attend next week’s poetry reading at Mark Twain Elementary School and later before the Carson City School Board.

“The poem is about a couch potato,” he said. “And you think it’s a monster, but it really ends up it’s my uncle.”

Grant is one of 22 elementary students, part of the Poet Poppers, who have worked the past eight weeks writing, reading, and performing poetry. First-grade teacher Tracy Schmid has been leading them in “Poetry Alive” sessions with money from a Drug-Free grant.

“To receive the grant, I correlated how poetry enriches students and can keep kids from choosing drugs,” she said. “And how students who are involved in after-school activities are less likely to make bad decisions. And how poetry is a form of self-expression and that the more students express themselves in better ways, the better decisions they make.”

Grant money paid for “Poetry Alive” T-shirts and snacks during the twice-weekly practices.

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“I like to quote Virgil,” Schmid said. “He said, ‘Do not commit your poems to pages alone. Sing them, I pray you.’ We’ve not only talked about writing poetry, but also about bringing those words to life through performing poetry.”

The grant also paid for a visit by “Poetry Alive” performers from back East who did two performances for the younger and older students at the school recently. Third-grader Yesenia Garcia saw them. She will perform and read the poem “Jaws” by Brad Bagert and “See What Happened” by Jack Prelutsky.

“I’m glad I got to do poetry,” she said. “It’s my favorite thing.”

Tuesday’s program will begin with a group reading of Danielle Rosenblatt’s “Have a Seat Upon a Cloud.” Each student wears a differently colored T-shirt during the performance, which should run about half-hour.

“I want you to remember to talk slow and talk loud,” said Schmid. “No matter how loud you think you are, talk louder. No matter how slow you think you’re talking, talk slower.

“This is a huge room,” she said of the school’s auditorium. “Your voice has to go over there. Your voice has to go in that corner.”

Roxie Brewer, Schmid’s first-grade teaching partner and Grant’s mother, encouraged students from the back of room – smiling, clapping, and commenting with praise.

“They have really blossomed,” she said. “During the first couple of classes, some of them wouldn’t even make a peep.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the children. They were recommended by teachers, and a lot of these kids don’t have chances at other things. Sometimes the arts are so overlooked in schools. For many of theses kids, this is their life link in school.”

– Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

If you go

What: Poet Popper Poetry Reading. Open to the public.

When: 2 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Mark Twain Elementary School, 2111 Carriage Crest Drive

Information: Call 283-1000.

Also, the 22 students will perform at the school board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Sierra Room of the Community Center at 851 E. William St.

Poetry alive

Eighteen of the poems written during the after-school “Poetry Alive” program were sent to the University of Nevada, Reno to be published in the Northern Nevada Writing Project’s Young Writers and Illustrators Anthology.

Although most of the poems to be read at Tuesday’s performance are from published children’s authors, Mark Twain fifth-grader Grant Brewer wrote one of his own. Classmate Travis Strand will perform Grant’s “Couch Potato.”

Couch Potato

Saturday morning the monster wakes up, uncombed hair on his head,

Breath so foul green smoke comes out,

Enough earwax to open a candleshop,

He lifts his arm, his hairy pits look like dead grass,

He opens his booger-crusted eyes and yawns.

Don’t worry. It’s just my uncle.

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