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Thematic Responses to Literature

May 11, 2022 | Blog, Fine Arts, IDEA, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Middle School News

The Grade 8 Humanities team (Todd Wass, Emily Pastore, Dave Leflar) in partnership with Arts and IDEA took a deep dive into “An American Sunrise” by Joy Harjo, the current Poet Laureate of the United States. Through a recent partnership with 7 Stages Theatre, teaching artists guided Grade 8 students through a thematic response to discussions on an essential work that asks:

  • Who we are as individuals
  • How we become ourselves through the history of our ancestors
  • Why we make art and our unique struggles that tie each one of us together.

Students were walked through creative responses ranging from performance (music/dance/acting), mixed media, writing, and/or visual arts.

The project culminated with a trip to 7 Stages Theater where the students performed on Feb. 15.

It has always been a key component of 7 Stages’ core values to find light within the darkness and to shed that light amongst those who need it most. The teaching artists sought conversations and connections throughout the creative process. 

Examples of student artistic responses included:
Haris, Christian and Eyob, presented a project they called “Rooted in Taste” inspired by the line “children playing with full bellies” in the poem “7 Generations” by Joy Harjo. The purpose of the project was to learn more about their heritage through food and cooking. Harris made a dish called Gulab Jamun, Pakistan’s National Desert and also wrote a poem about it he called “The Sent of Family.” Christian made Scottish shortbread, and shared an original poem he called “Connected Forever.” Eog made an Ethiopian bread called Ambasha and shared his original poem called “A Slice of Memory.”

McKayla shared an artifact she called “A recipe of home” Part 1 was a painting of Jamaica’s National Fruit Tree, Ackee. Next to the tree is a Jamaican story/riddle. The riddle was a metaphor for Ackee that her father grew up with. Part 2 was a painting of the ingredients to make Jamaica’s National Dish – Ackee and SaltFish underneath the ingredients were two women (her father’s mother and grandmother, beside her father) enjoying the meal at the table. Part 3 was a poem that featured two lines from Joy Harjo’s poem Recipe of Hope.

Using her grandmother’s recipe Ashlyn shared the pound cake her great grandmother used to make for family gatherings. She felt like it went well with the poem “First Morning” specifically the line, “We will carry your memory here until we join you.”

David Leflar described the partnership with 7 Stages as “ the best external expert collaboration I’ve ever been a part of as an educator. We are so lucky to have you bringing the best out in our students.” 

To see all the Grade 8 performances see the links below.

Show 1
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AWNNQjlRKPOcgKJKJEcRqVkfjJW5njvL/view?usp=drivesdk

Show 2
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TJXFhA3FbUr5rVPksGSw72vAuRVWuedU/view?usp=drivesdk