In a collaboration among Methow Arts, the Public School Funding Alliance, and the Methow Valley School District, 9th graders at Liberty Bell High School explored the meaning of justice and how it could be enhanced in their lives, school, community, and country.
Activist Darcy Ottey helped freshman English teacher Dani Golden launch the unit, in which students explore identity in society and how that relates to social justice. Next, working with Methow Arts teaching poet Cindy Williams Gutiérrez, students examined the American Dream from multiple perspectives: the Founding Fathers, Chief Joseph, Martin Luther King Jr., the DACA Dreamers, and their own. Using Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again” as a springboard, students wrote their own poems of a “just” America. Students read their poems aloud during two free virtual events presented by Methow Arts and the Methow Valley School District in January 2022.
In this poetry residency, students learned how to write a poem of witness, how to translate their ideas into imagery as well as what anaphora is (the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of consecutive lines) and how to use it in a poem. Additional residency goals included: nurturing empathy, curiosity, and connection across difference; increasing students’ capacity for self-reflection and the ability to hold tension and contradiction as they apply moral reasoning; and developing a deeper understanding of the social fabric of the United States, and some of the history that has led to some of the unrest and division we see now.
And thank you to the generosity of our SPONSORS AND DONORS who have kept the arts alive for so many and supported this project.