Kids bring poetry to life

Jessi Haftel, right, with the North Carolina-based Poetry Alive group, helps Valley Intermediate School students act out a poem during an April 19 visit to the school. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Students at Pelham’s Valley Intermediate School brought poetry to life on April 19 as they acted out everything from flying an alien spaceship to portraying fleas and bees.

Wendi Loomis and Jess Haftel, both with the North Carolina-based Poetry Alive group, spent the morning celebrating a recent VIS poetry contest while helping kids act out some of their favorite poems.

“You’ll be surprised by how much the kids get into this performance,” Pelham Public Library Director Barbara Roberts said before Poetry Alive’s second performance of the day. “It’s really a good program.”

The Poetry Alive performances wrapped up several weeks of financial lessons at the school funded by a “Smart Investing @ Your Library” grant secured by the public library, Roberts said.

Through the library program, the kids spent the past several weeks creating mock family budgets and working on money-saving lessons.

VIS also held a finance-themed poetry contest. Competition winners were fifth-grader Bethany Warden, who penned a poem about the importance of being “rich on the inside,” and third-grader Sydney Grice, whose poem focused on the importance of saving money.

Both girls memorized their poems and read them in front of their classmates during the Poetry Alive performance.

After the girls shared their poems, Haftel and Loomis helped VIS students act out poems such as “Mother Doesn’t Want a Dog” by Judith Viorst and “The Aliens have Landed” by Kenn Nesbitt.

Throughout the performance, the kids participated by joining Haftel and Loomis on stage and by shouting poem lyrics when cued by the Poetry Alive actors.

“I want to thank you for helping us to bring these poems to life,” Loomis told the kids. “Any day you can bring a poem alive.

“If you have a poetry emergency, you can walk into your library and in section 811, you’ll find many of the poems we read today,” Loomis added.