The Block Island Times

Community spirit and poetry is alive and well at B.I. School

By Gloria S. Redlich | Apr 10, 2013

During the first week of April, while the rest of the island community was still shaking off the trappings of winter, a burst of public spirited and creative student energy marked Block Island School activities — in and out of the classroom.

On April 3, teaching assistant Amy Dugan announced that members of the National Honor Society had been out that day stocking the Helping Hands pantry at the Harbor Church. Helping Hands donates food to those in the community who find themselves in some financial straits.

Students were fulfilling some of their responsibilities as Honor Society members doing community service. Dugan, who is the group’s advisor, said members were also planning their annual “Homeless for a Night” fundraiser, set to take place mid- May.

As part of that drive, the students camp out in Esta’s Park overnight, dramatizing the ordeal that some people routinely go through. They ask members of the community to underwrite their efforts.

Dugan noted that this year the students had instituted cake sales to supplement monies raised on their overnight homeless project. To date, the first brought in $70, and it is hoped the second, which is set to take place on Tuesday, April 9, will bring in a similar amount.

All monies raised will go to Crossroads Rhode Island (a shelter for homeless persons in Providence) and to the Mary D Fund.

Dugan pointed out that eleventh grader Oliver Mott was the most recent inductee into the school’s Honor Society chapter. He joins twelfth grade members Alex Brady, Tom Conant, Jaixen Hall and Madison Tretheway.

In a related matter, Dugan, who is also yearbook advisor, anticipated that the published editions would be shipped by May 11 and available for sale by the third week of the month. Dugan praised the yearbook’s cover art, the work of Alexandra Brady, as wonderful.

Middle grades poetry project

For the last few years, high school English teacher Nancy Greenaway has been working with students in the fifth, sixth and seventh grades in a program to introduce them to and heighten their awareness of poetry. Coordinating with their classroom teachers, Greenaway said they met several times — initially to perform short plays with lines written in poetry. Next, teachers were asked to select and read poems they loved to the group, and finally Greenaway offered a series of poems from which students selected ones they would like to read aloud.

Throughout the process, teachers and students discussed some of the elements of poetry— e.g., alliteration and end rhymes — learning how to identify these. In addition, students discovered how to distinguish between narrative, lyric and acrostic poetry, etc. They eventually all had the chance to write their own poems.

Greenaway, who is an accomplished poet herself, noted she and her high school classes had been working with the Rhode Island branch of the International Reading Association for several years.

The group, which puts out an annual publication, sends out a prompt and asks for submissions from students and teachers alike. In the past, Greenaway’s poetry has been included in the publication as well.

This year, Greenaway’s submissions included works by the middle graders as well as those of high school students. Each class voted on one student’s poem to submit. Greenaway noted she’d been very impressed by the respectful way students listened to each other read their poetry.

One part of the process that Greenaway particularly delighted in was that the students—who had learned to enunciate and project their voices—opted to read their poems aloud again and again, in order to savor the sound and meaning of words.

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