In February, UAGC's Poetry Club hosted an annual Music and Poetry Synchronized (MAPS) concert with the student musicians and performers of the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School from Pioneer Valley, MA.
Under the direction of UAGC English teacher Felix Rivera, with Pioneer Valley teachers, UAGC and PVPA students engage in a yearlong dialogue of the arts, during which UAGC's poets send original pieces to their peers at PVPA, who arrange the poems into musical performance pieces. The concert, conducted twice each year, once at UAGC and once at PVPA, is the culminating call-and-response, show-casing the students' talents and efforts, and highlighting the power of art to bring students together across cultural and geographic differences.
Students' work explore topics central to teenage life on the brink of adulthood -- determining self identity; experiences with love, betrayal, fear, pain and hope; challenges and joys of family; the scars of abuse; and the meaning of friendship. Additionally, several poets venture into point-of-view and fiery protest. PVPA students, 7th and 8th graders, respond with well-executed performances, including blues-driven rock, singer-songwriter folk, and soulful renditions.
UAGC student, Leida Resendiz, won a scholarship and was selected to perform tonight at First Baptist Church's Black History Month Concert.
Read the full text below, including her performance notes.
Change is Beautiful
From a young age mom taught me that the only race in this planet was the human race (positive, factual).
She looked me in the eyes and said, “never judge someone because of the color of their skin, but instead celebrate the differences we bring.”
So I always woke up with a smile, and listened as a president brought “change we can believe in.” (channel Obama)
He brought hope and showed that we are “Greater Together” and for a time, that was enough. (become soft)
But change can go both ways. People change, parties change, and presidents. They change too.
They say we need to “Make America Great Again,” like we haven’t been trying for the past 63 years to overcome the ignorance that separates us.
That put us in different schools.
Different parts of a bus.
But difference can be beautiful, and can alter who we are.
Difference brought us Martin Luther King Jr,who said “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
That inspired strength, and that difference made Black Panthers bare their fangs and roar for justice.
It made people listen. And when people listen, they can change.
They can dream. (pause) I have a dream.
That dream is to fight discrimination, to celebrate who I am. Who you are. Who we are.
To remember that change took something from us, so we need to change to bring it back. Because when times are low, we must go high.
So today I am here to remember the Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., who fought for what the peace we have today.
I can't imagine living in a world where there is so much hate against people of color, and neither could Martin Luther King Jr. So he didn’t.
There will always be discrimination, but if we all come together I know there will be a change.
If we stand up together, fight together, have our voices heard together, we will overcome that change, because “we’re stronger together.”
UAGC Students Learn to Ask Questions
The NYTimes recently re-featured an article about the importance, and power of question asking. It's a practice UAGC students engage in each day, what we call "breaching." or making thinking visible. It's a challenging learning experience, because students are asking the important questions that may not have a definite answer, or require deep thought to answer. Learning is definitely not for the lazy!
Teachers guide students through the process of asking "given what I already know, what doI still need to understand?" They push students to ask the "why?" and "what if?" questions that cannot be easily answered; teachers know they're not there to provide easy answers, but to support students in asking the right questions for themselves.
UAGC Students Prepared for Competitive Careers
The article highlights the importance of question-asking, especially as it relates to competitive careers. As Jailine Estrella, UAGC alum and current NYU student reflected, "At UAGC I learned to ask questions and express what I was curious about or needed to know, which is what all of my college courses require of me!"
So how can companies encourage people to ask more questions? There are simple ways to train people to become more comfortable and proficient at it. For example, question formulation exercises can be used as a substitute for conventional brainstorming sessions. The idea is to put a problem or challenge in front of a group of people and instead of asking for ideas, instruct participants to generate as many relevant questions as they can. Kristi Schaffner, an executive at Microsoft, regularly conducts such exercises there and says they sharpen analytical skills.
UAGC students have an advantage - they have learned through years of practice how to question and, with experience, learn to seek the answer for themselves.
I'm just staring-
Staring at the person i’ve become-
Took me years to get here-
Wow! I’ve changed!
I'm just staring-
Staring back at the person she’s become.
Looking back at her reflection thinking-
“Wow! she’s changed!”
I'm just thinking-
Staring at the person i’ve become-
Feeling i don't know Right from Wrong-
But wow! I’ve changed!
I’m just thinking-
Staring back at a girl who feels she doesn’t know Right from wrong-
But i know she knows-
She just doesn’t know how to use it right.
Mirror mirror on the wall-
Who has changed most of all?
Alysha Alysha you standing there-
You have changed so much from a lil bear.
Mirror mirror on the wall-
Why is it i always disappoint them all?
Alysha Alysha it’s okay to disappoint-
Everyone has someone who thinks of them as a disappointment.
but mirror mirror on the wall-
Why when i feel i'm doing the right thing, i fall?
but Alysha Alysha open your eyes!
You have grown from that little girl i met long ago-
Into someone who is strong!
Now look at me!
Really look at me!
Into your eyes...
Look at each other
And see you will do great things-
Because i am you.
And you are me.
Because we are stronger together-
Even without looking through a mirror.
Once upon a time there were two girls swinging side by side.
One was shy and the other one was not.
One had battle scars and the other one had a battle going inside her mind.
One of the girls shared and opened up fast while the other one kept looking at the grass, wondering whether to speak her secrets or not.
She felt she could trust her since the first day they meet. Yet she has never opened up to anyone so soon so why should she be the only exception.
Silence feel once she lastly spoke "No one cares about me."
Until she finally spoke "In the entire world there will always be one person that cares for you, even if you don't realize it."
From staring into the sunset they shared a glance, her face was motion less but the other girl smiled reassuring her, soon a smile grew on the other girl.
Silence stroke again but this time it was as if every problem flew by.
The silent girl spoke becoming the other girls role "Let's be friends" as for the moment naming their relationships something other than complicated.
The confident took on the shyness responded "I'm not good at keeping friendships."
Silence fell for the third time.
One keep her smile while the other ones started to fade away.
"Me neither, but at least we can try. I promise I won't ever stop." The girl on the left turned to see the girl on the right.
For that moment was a special one, they went through hell and back. Flew to heaven but one had to go back, She went back to battle her demons while the girl in heaven is trying to find a way out.
Sadly enough it's most likely impossible so now she lives her life protecting her friend from afar, being the guardian angel she never knew she had inside.
The girl that left walked into the dragon's den, however she doesn't know what her friend is helping a bit on her quest.
She might not realize that the words that were spoken that day were honest and true, because even if the whole world turned against her, she will always care even if she doesn't return it.
She trusts her more than she realized and she was afraid about her fighting her demons and losing her, better to be miles away than realms away.
To the girl in heaven never cared less, she found her way down but it was needless to say. Demons came around twisting her realm, now she doubt everything even her own steps.
Lost In Realization
Realization is something we all come across.
We are all lost but trying to find a destination.
Oh life where could you take us?
We are lost like a star in day.
What can I say we are like a ship lost at sea.
Nowhere to be found but the hope remains there.
Like air you can’t see but you sure breathe it.
We are lost in fantasies and illusions of this worldly life.
Why don’t we realize that it is a lie?
A lie covered with dark depths that scorn our souls.
We convinced ourselves this is what we want.
When in reality we aren’t living to our true potential.
A lie like a fish on dry land.
It appears to move and shake.
But it’ll die soon.
Yet we think it still has so much life due to its movements.
We’re living a life based on what others are doing.
A person of truth can tell the difference between lies and illusions.
Live your life in truth and you shall find what you seek.
When realization hits darkness will perish and light will stream like a river flow.
We Don’t Realize
I’ve come to realize that we are all lost. We have yet to find our way in this world. We’re following and doing things that aren’t necessarily true to who we are. We want to become other people yet we don’t realize that these people are lost themselves. Lost in fantasies and illusions. They built this life for themselves based on other people’s opinions and provoking words. We live in this box where our life is built on impressing others.
People are the way they are because of what they are given in this world. I’m not talking about how they have come up financially. I’m talking about the love and care they’ve been given throughout their lives. Some people lack that yet they don’t realize. A lot of us myself included lose ourselves in many different ways. We’re not totally lost because some part of us is still there buried deep down where no man can see.
When people hear lost they instantly think you don’t know where you are, where you belong. What about not knowing who you are anymore? Who are we deep inside? Is a question I’ve asked myself and I’ve come to realize, I am more than just a person. I am someone who has an impact. Everything I do affects others around me. A lot of people are lost in a sense where they only care about themselves because they’ve come to believe they’re only important. Every being is important. Yet we don’t realize that.
We’re lost because we don’t recognize our true self worth and let others judgments affect us to the point we don’t realize. Realize that only we can be the true versions of ourselves. Don’t follow that person that doesn’t even know who they are because of the fact they weren’t willing to find themselves. We are all one. All united but separated. We are so lost that we deeply don’t know why. We are our own enemy. We let our negative thoughts of who we are bring us down. Why don’t we indulge in more knowledge and confidence? We let other people’s perceptions of beauty, knowledge, and life affect who we truly are.
We are beautiful lost souls that need guidance and in order to reach that we need to love ourselves and love another. We’re all trying to find our way in this world the best way we can. Life is what you make of it. So see the good and beauty in everything. Figure out what you want and need then maybe you’ll know yourself better. Once you get that down the love for yourself and the world will come naturally.