EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
After a few weeks into the regular lunch bunch poetry group, known as the Colt Hamlets, campus counselor Christina DeLoach decided they needed to skip a meeting. The program was completely voluntary, and so no grade held in the balance.
She let the Colt Hamlets know, through their classroom teachers, and went about her day.
At the regular Colt Hamlets meeting time, DeLoach looked up at her door and found the boys standing there.
Skipping a daily lunch bunch meeting wasn’t part of their plan.
“It’s been amazing,” she said of the poetry group and its effect on the boys.
In fact, the voluntary poetry meetup has changed how the boys look at writing, poetry, and their world.
“I like writing now, more than before,” said fourth-grader Cadyn Jacobs, one of the Colt Hamlets.
“It helps me think better, even different,” said fourth-grader Dempsey Evans. “It helps me to think about stuff, things that happen, and all that.”
Which is exactly why DeLoach created the poetry group. She noticed several boys were getting referred to her office. It wasn’t that they were misbehaving, just struggling on how to deal with things happening around them from time to time. A goal of Colt Elementary School as well as the Marble Falls Independent School District is to help students with their social-emotional well-being. DeLoach began thinking about ways to address this issue.
Poetry came to mind.
“The idea is I want to help them with their emotional regulation,” she said. “I went with poetry because it’s one of those things that crosses so many boundaries. It’s in music, and all different styles. Poetry has a public speaking part, and public speaking is all about regulating emotions.”
DeLoach kicked off the lunch bunch poetry group in February. She invited 10 boys to participate. It was all voluntary but would mean spending time every lunch period meeting as well as additional homework.
“It’s totally optional,” DeLoach said. “They didn’t have to come. If they did, though, they had to do the homework and other things.”
Four weeks into the program, nine of the 10 original boys are still attending it. They are even participating in a public poetry reading Monday, March 25, at 5 p.m. at Numinous Coffee Roasters in Marble Falls. Again, it’s optional, but the fact the boys are considering participating in a public reading speaks volumes on how excited they are about poetry and being part of the Colt Hamlets.
The boys study poetry as well as write their own.
DeLoach also turned to the community to assist with the group, including a pastor who helped the boys with public speaking and an internationally renowned musician from Horseshoe Bay, Caleb Rojas.
Rojas, who started performing professionally when he was 12, works with the boys to better express themselves through their words. It helps the boys deal with their emotions.
“Caleb came in and started working with them with music, and it opened a whole new world,” DeLoach said.
One of the things Rojas shares with the boys is how infusing music into their words, or into their lives, can help them see things in a new way. He uses an exercise in which he plays a chord then asks the boys what color they see. While it might not seem like musical chords and colors have much in common, Rojas pointed out the two interrelate, particularly when it comes to exploring how a piece of music makes us feel.
“If they hear a chord and see a color, it’s a different way to experience that music,” Rojas said. “Is there an emotion or even a noun they think of with the chord or the color? Where does the music take you?”
The efforts of Rojas, DeLoach, and the other community members are working. Fourth-grader and Colt Hamlets member Gage Coleman explained that while he has definitely become a fan of poetry, he’s also learned much more, such as how to stand properly when speaking before a group, how to read his poetry in a manner that reflects his words, and confidence.
“And it’s just fun,” he said. “I’m going to keep writing.”
Those words are poetry to DeLoach’s ears.