Hamilton and Langston Hughes – Oakland International High School Explores Poetry
By Guest Blogger Sailaja Suresh, Director, Oakland International High School Learning Lab
On rainy days like these, Breakfast likes to nap, so I’m filling in for her to tell everyone about how National Poetry Month is unfolding here at Oakland International High School.
This year, our after school program joined in on the fun by having a poetry-themed month in the drop-in tutoring program. Each day, students were given visual prompts, questions, ideas, and assorted words to use in constructing their own poems. We even had a few days focused on writing about technology (you’ll see the best of those poems soon!). Students wrote, read, and recited poetry in English, Spanish, Arabic, Tamil, and Farsi.
The spring here has been busy with the arts at Oakland International High School–in addition to poetry, our 11th graders were selected to go to San Francisco to see a production of Hamilton: An American Musical, and are currently in rehearsals for their own production of A Raisin in the Sun, one of my all-time favorite plays, referencing one of my all-time favorite poems! We are also celebrating the close of our 10th year as a school, serving the immigrant and refugee community here in Oakland. We just had a celebration dinner for our alumni, staff members, and volunteers, and it was amazing to see more than 100 of our old students return to visit and update us on their lives. It’s been an honor to be a part of so many students and families’ lives and a tremendous joy to help them achieve their dreams.
It’s always a great reminder to read the words of Langston Hughes and reflect upon our work as educators, particularly in the ACE Learning Centers, where we’re able to provide continuing education opportunities to so many students, parents, and family members who simply do not have other options to learn English and get help in pursuing their dreams and goals.
By Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
(All copyrights are Langston Hughes, for whom we have immeasurable respect.)