by Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator
A few weeks ago, I blogged about volunteering with a Catalogue nonprofit, , that encourages incarcerated young men to find their artistic voice and express themselves through poetry. This week, Catalogue’s Sherika Brooks and I had the privilege of not only spending another night immersed in Free Minds’ students’ poetry, but also celebrating the poetic achievements of another Catalogue nonprofits’ scholars. Higher Achievement, a rigorous after school and summer program for students in at-risk communities, hosted its annual Literary Love Poetry Performance on Monday, February 25th.
The event was a celebration of Higher Achievement’s work, but most importantly, a celebration of their middle school scholars’ writing from the past few months. After reading and exploring the work of well-known authors and poets, scholars wrote their own poems on the theme of love. A dozen students from Higher Achievement achievement centers across the DC Metro area were chosen as finalists and given the opportunity to perform their poems on stage at the Lansburgh Theatre.
If I hadn’t learned this lesson from Free Minds before, Monday night’s performances demonstrated once again that an inner poet resides in everyone. Students shared and declared their love for a range of things — from life, love, and Mom and Dad, to football and Queen Latifah. The overall message? Everyone loves — loves deeply and for real, regardless of education level, gender, class or age.
The talent, creativity, and bravery of the twelve students who performed Monday night showed the value of Higher Achievement’s program in their lives — on both their educational paths and personal development. During the program, Higher Achievement talked about the world it envisions, one where “all students’ potential and promise are realized, regardless of their circumstances.” I could not help but think, watching twelve mature and inspiring students take the stage and talk about love, that hundreds and thousands of other students wait in the wings for their turn to take the stage, and take advantage of opportunities that are yet out of reach.
Higher Achievement is always looking for more champions to show their love and share their vision — for more information on donating, volunteering or supporting the organization in other ways, check out Higher Achievement’s Catalogue page here. For more info on other Catalogue nonprofits working to improve the educational opportunities for youth in our area, check out the online Catalogue here.