Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.
Please join the conversation.
By Riley, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot, assisted by Martha Sessums, ACE President, who types faster than Riley
April is my favorite month. Not only is the sun shining more which feels so good when you’re taking a nap on the front porch but it’s National Poetry Month. That great month when we learn about and share poetry.
Plus, we write poetry for the ninth annual ACE Poetry Contest. And who’s the ACE Poetry Contest Mascot? It’s me again. Arf. Arf.
All the ACE Learning Center schools joined the contest, and each school has a cool mascot that represents the spirit of the schools. Let’s meet the mascots, then we’ll get to the poetry contest details.
Alpha Public Schools – Why, it’s me, Riley. I’ve been the Alpha mascot for all these nine years. Awesome.
San Francisco International High School – Max, the Husky, is a legend. Not only is the official SFIHS school mascot a husky, but Max was probably the inspiration. He’s a buddy with one of the school’s first-year teachers and still hangs around campus. Quite the legend. Welcome Max.
Oakland International High School – As we all know, there’s always a cat(s) involved in the ACE Poetry Contest and Bodie is OIHS’s cat mascot this year. So nice to have you working the contest, Bodie, and we look forward to your catteral poems.
Now let’s talk rules. My favorite part about the rules is that they are pretty loose. The only non-loose part is that the winners win MONEY. Something we can all use nowadays. Here are the rules:
🐾 Poetry topic is open. Any topic. Your choice. Your teacher will guide you as you learn about the different types of poetry.
🐾 Judging rules and choosing the winners are managed by each school.
🐾 First Place receives $100. Second Place receives $75 and Third Place receives $50. Prizes will be in the form of a credit card gift card so you can spend it anywhere.
🐾 Any type of poetry is eligible. Haiku, slam, limerick, free verse, qauīdah, epic, even doggerel, which is my favorite. Or catteral, which is Bodie’s favorite.
That’s it. Those are the rules. Not as complicated as the house rules that owner John makes me follow. Sit. Stay. Come. No. Mostly “no!” nowadays.
A “good dog” response gets me treats, but here is where you get poem treats. You can sign up for a Poem-a-Day email and learn about poetry. Plus, April 29 is Poem in Your Pocket Day where you can share poems with any one you meet – in person (masked and socially distanced, of course) or virtually.
More blogs and poems from your mascots will happen all month so be on the lookout. Plus, the winner’s poems will be posted on the ACE Spectrum blog with lots of fanfare.
Then there’s social media sharing. Be sure to use #ACEPoetryContest, #NationalPoetryMonth, #pocketpoem, #NPM21 or any of your social media faves. Anyone want to post a poem on TikTok?
Check out the blog all month long and remember – treat yourself to a poem. Arf.
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
For many students, dealing with virtual learning is hard enough. Add the fact that many homes are small and finding a good place to be online and do homework can make the learning experience even more difficult.
But one of the nice things that has come out of the pandemic is our recognition that we are all in this together. We are a community. And communities help and support their members as much as they can.
One way that the Alpha community helped is with providing wooden desks to some students that were in particular space need. Many students share a small space with the entire family so learning is done on couches, beds or the floor. Plus, most of the students have siblings and sometimes work-from-home parents, so space gets very tight. Where does a student get comfortable to learn?
“We saw how much students were struggling and finding a reasonable place to do the learning work was one issue,” said Alejandro Espinoza, Parent Learning Center Lead. “Thanks to a colleague, we made a connection with a community member who was building desks to support students engaging in virtual learning.”
Alpha obtained 10 desks to give to students. The Alpha community identified families that were in need and gave five to middle or high school students and another five to elementary school students.
“The students loved them, and one student immediately decorated his new desk,” said Espinoza. “The desks were really nice in the homes because having an extra desk really helped the families.”
The desk makers didn’t have expertise in wood working or building desks, but they saw a need and wanted to support families in the community.
“We admire and respect that attitude,” said Espinoza.
So does ACE. It’s about community, and we admire and respect those that work hard to support their community, whether it’s nearby or worldwide.
By Martha Sessums, President, Association for Continuing Education
Poet Amanda Gorman has brought poetry back into the spotlight at a much-needed time. She became a sensation when she delivered her poem The Hill We Climb at the U.S. presidential inauguration. Her performance and the power of her poem was (and continues to be) reported on from around the world and on social media. She was also asked to become the first poet commissioned to write a poem to be read at the Super Bowl.
Poetry. At the Super Bowl. Amanda’s poem honored the essential workers today – an ICU nurse manager, a U.S. soldier and an educator – who were named “Honorary Captains” for their leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic. Touchdown.
Poetry has always been important, but Amanda’s performances have struck a chord with so many. It’s a chord that pulls on all our community voices to listen and respond. A chord that needed to be pulled. That was waiting to be pulled.
ACE supports a poetry contest every April, the National Poetry Month, and here’s what Elisa Aguilar Cinto, a 2019 winner from San Francisco International High School, said in January prior to the inauguration.
“We can move forward together by supporting each other,” she wrote. “When I say supporting each other I mean to say that the leaders could care about human rights and that would allow the communities to share their opinions and ideas of how to build and manage a good and peaceful government that includes community voices.”
Community voices. A chord ready to be pulled.
Amanda has pulled the chord for the power of poetry and community voices in her performances and the many interviews she has given. In a CNN interview, she left Anderson Cooper speechless after revealing the very personal mantra she uses prior to each performance. For Time Magazine, she discussed with former First Lady Michelle Obama the role of art in activism and the pressures Black women face in the spotlight. In one interview, Amanda pulled the chord even harder.
“Poetry is the language of reconciliation,” she said. “It often reminds us of our best selves and common values . . .There is a specific power in poetry to sanctify, purify, and rectify, even amidst discord. . . In fact, poetry is the language of the people. I’d tell other young people that poetry is vibrant and ever-changing, and the art form belongs to us all, not to a select group. We need your voices, we need your stories, so don’t be afraid to pick up a pen.”
The chord was pulled by Amanda. Inspiration will arise. Voices will be given power. Community voices reflecting reconciliation for our communities and supporting each other. The power of poetry is one of the paths for our voices so we can all pull the chord.
The ACE Poetry Contest acts as an inspiration for our Learning Center schools to teach poetry and inspire students to write poetry. Last year it became an online experience where contestants performed their poems in their Zoom classes. We look forward to the poems of 2021 and their power to raise community voices and pull chords. Thank you, Amanda, for showing the power of poetry.
…The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.*
*From The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman