In the spring of 2017, we were pleased to complete our third year working with Lowell Elementary School’s second grade classes to create poetry and songs with the students. Each year, we give special attention to medically challenged and special education students at Lowell. This year, we included these students in three ways: as part of the regular second grade classes, in self-contained classrooms participating with the regular classes, and a group of students who participated with their self-contained classmates only.
Special Education students
Students in Jessica, Sara, and Heidi’s self-contained special education classrooms created their own poems with poet Samar Abulhassan and helper Peter Williams. Armed with poems and lunch, the kids and their helpers came to Jack Straw. Students absorbed the sounds of the installation Meditations on Water by City Meditation Crew in the Jack Straw New Media Gallery, recorded their poems in the studios, experimented making sounds with a variety of objects from rain sticks to cymbals, and had a music jam with cello, keyboard, accordion, and more!
Second Grade Poetry and Song
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 Tai Shan and Levi Fuller wrote songs inspired by the poems.
Tai and Levi visited the students in the classroom to teach them the songs, which they then practiced in school. 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 Tom Stiles, and then played and sang their songs as a group with Tai and Levi.
Lowell Poetry, Sound, and Song 2017 was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center and Lowell Elementary School with the generous support of Creative Advantage, Jubilation Foundation, the Washington State Arts Commission, and individual contributors. This program was provided under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Special thanks to teachers Jessica, Sara, and Heidi, and helpers Davina, Emma, Peter, and Rose who worked with our artist team to make our special needs project very special.
Special thanks to Lowell 2nd grade students, 2nd grade teachers Rae Richardson, Alexi West, and Hannah Moffitt, Special Education teacher Karen Giroux, Lowell’s art teacher and Creative Advantage Co-Coordinator Robyn Jordan, music teacher Rose Ness, and principal Colleen Stump who all helped make this program possible.
The Jack Straw artist team included poet Samar Abulhassan, vocal coaches Alyssa Keene, Katya Landau, and Meg McLynn, musicians Tai Shan and Levi Fuller, audio engineers Daniel Guenther, Joel Maddox, and Tom Stiles, photographer Sherwin Eng, and Jack Straw Executive Director Joan Rabinowitz.