Elementary and middle school students shared their thoughts and feelings about bullying during a no name-calling poetry slam Thursday night at One World Café.
Students from Moscow’s Palouse Prairie Charter School presented their poetry to celebrate National No Name-Calling Week, a week dedicated to ending name-calling and bullying in schools and the community, said Jessie Dahlin, organizer of the event and behavior specialist at Palouse Prairie.
Dahlin said the week, which spans from Jan. 15 through Jan. 19, beginning with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, signifies the importance of showing kindness and compassion and how it can impact lives.
“The world changes a little bit today,” Dahlin said. “Together we are stronger. Together we will be heard.”
Dahlin said the middle schoolers at Palouse Prairie came up with the idea for the anti-bullying poetry slam. She said originally each middle schooler wrote a poem for the project, but anyone who wanted to perform in public could do so as long as they had a complete poem and a strong voice.
The fourth graders wanted to join in on the event because they had recently presented an evening of poetry in support of the Humane Society of the Palouse, Dahlin said.
“They are all here because they chose to be,” she said.
The students presented poems that told their stories and communicated their messages of hope to end bullying, specifically name-calling, and many of the poems revolved around the theme that everyone, including bullies, needs a little help.
Dahlin said that in November, Palouse Prairie made it a mission to make their school a bully-free and no name-calling zone. She said their students have been learning about the importance of kindness in their classrooms, and this is their week to celebrate the work they have put in.
The poetry slam was a follow-up to the school’s march for kindness through downtown Moscow Thursday morning, where they marched for the importance of calling people what they want to be called and adding kindness into every action.
“Today was a big day for our school,” she said. “We can honestly say now that we don’t call each other names.”
Dahlin said the students were very excited to be a part of an event that was being celebrated across the country and to bring it to the Moscow community, and she hopes to make the poetry slam an annual event.
“We teach our kids that their work is important and goes beyond our school walls,” she said. “We teach them that they have something to say and they should take value and ownership for their work.”
Carole Bogden, a Palouse Prairie parent, said she loved seeing the big crowd and the enthusiasm at the poetry slam, which she said helped to promote a lot of good messages.
“It was perfect,” Bogden said. “I love our school, and I am very thankful for our community and especially One World to allow kids to express themselves about bullying.”
Jordan Willson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org