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Live Oak Elementary hosts poetry jam

Nearly 30 children recited poems for the audience.

Posted: May 2, 2008 12:03 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Youngsters perform their favorite poetry during Live Oak Elementary School's 6th annual Poetry Night last week. Timed to coincide with national turn-off-the-TV week, the event staged for family and friends helped bring families together and encouraged youngsters to speak to groups in public, an organizer said.

It was a celebration of poetry as youngsters from Live Oak Elementary School in Castaic took the stage to
recite their literary creations.

The 6th annual Poetry Night at the Leopard Lounge was part of a week-long effort to have families turn their televisions off and spend time together.

The Tuesday evening event, which featured nearly 30 kids decked in a leopard-print shirts to represent the
school's mascot, was organized as a way to acquaint children with poetry while allowing them to speak in
front of an audience and celebrate April as National Poetry Month.

Ann Boyd, the school's reading specialist and coordinator of the event, said she hoped the evening would initiate another method for students to read aloud.

"When they write their own words, they are more excited to read it," she said. "It's another link to the written word for them."

As each child read his or her poem, three judges, who are Live Oak educators, offered kind comments as a
form of encouragement for the child's participation.

"Everyone is a winner," Boyd said, adding that the poetry jam was not meant to serve as a competition.

The second half of the event was designed as an "open-mike" period during which students lined up and
read their favorite poems to the audience of parents, Parent Teacher Association members and teachers.
Jessy Holen, a fifth-grader at Live Oak, has participated in the "poetry jam" since she was a kindergartner.

As she wrapped up a reading of "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, she explained what she's learned over the years: "It's fun and that rhyming could be easy if you put your mind to it."

Her mother, Beth Holan, said the experience has given her daughter a way to feel comfortable when speaking in front of an audience.

The poetry jam was one of the series of events organized by the Live Oak PTA to commemorate national
turn-off-the-TV week.

Susan Christopher, program chairwoman for the Live Oak PTA, said the week's events included an assembly from Kaiser Permanente about switching off the television, a restaurant night for families, a heavily-attended karaoke night and an evening of pizza in the park.

Christopher believes it is important to "open our kids' eyes" about switching off all electronics for
the week.

"It's also good peer pressure for parents," she said, as it gets parents involved with kids and develops
family relationships.


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