Lowell Elementary: Poetry and Song 2019

In the spring of 2019, we were pleased to complete our fifth year working with Lowell Elementary School students to create poetry and songs. This web page is the culmination of Jack Straw artist residencies with Lowell second grade students, including students from the Aspire special education class.

Lowell second graders worked with Jack Straw’s artist team to write, perform, and record their own poetry and songs. First, poet Samar Abulhassan visited the students and helped them write their poems. The students chose their favorites, and songwriters John Ackermann and Wes Weddell wrote songs inspired by the poems.

John and Wes visited the students in the classroom to teach them the songs, which they then practiced in school. Jack Straw’s vocal coaches also visited the classroom to help the students read their poems out loud. As the culmination of the project, the students visited Jack Straw’s studios. They recorded their individual poems with the help of vocal coaches Alyssa Keene, and Katya Landau and audio engineers Daniel Guenther, Joel Maddox, and Ayesha Ubyatilaka, and then played and sang their songs as a group with John and Wes.

Students in Ms. Rae’s class shared their poems and sang with Wes Weddell at the Northwest Folklife Festival on May 26th as part of Jack Straw’s Youth Showcase. On June 15th, students received their CDs and had a party at Lowell to listen to the CD and see photos from the program.

Lowell Poetry and Song 2019 was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center and Lowell Elementary School with the generous support of the Washington State Arts Commission, Harvest Foundation, Jubilation Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, the Washington Music Educators Association Music Matters Fund, Seattle Public Schools and Creative Advantage, and individual donors. This program was provided, in part, under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Our thanks to Lowell teachers Sara Manley, Rob Smuidrins, Katie Mathers, and Alix Perry, who worked with our artist team to support students from the Aspire program.

Our thanks to Lowell 2nd grade students and 2nd grade teachers Hannah Moffitt, Sam Barnes, and Rae Richardson. Our thanks also to parent chaperones for their help on studio field trips. And, our special thanks to Shelby Leyland, Lowell music teacher, whose enthusiasm and commitment have made this program possible.

The Jack Straw artist team included poet Samar Abulhassan, vocal coaches Katya Landau and Alyssa Keene, musicians John Ackerman and Wes Weddell, audio engineers Daniel Guenther, Joel Maddox, and Ayesha Ubayatilaka, and Jack Straw Executive Director Joan Rabinowitz.





Samar Abulhassan

Samar Abulhassan

Samar Abulhassan holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University and has worked as a teaching artist for ten years, for Seattle Arts and Lectures’ WITS Program, Jack Straw…

Wes Weddel

Wes Weddell

Wes Weddell is a singer/songwriter who has been performing and releasing music ever since My Northwest Home introduced him to the music scene in 2001. In 2010 Wes began…