Marty Mentzer's Basketball Poets over at Supply Elementary School is one of our state's most original, creative, and encouraging projects. I say encouraging, because some days I fear our students are growing up never learning about the sheer joy of language, especially poetry. Marty has made sure that doesn't happen at Supply Elementary.
About the latest activities of the Basketball Poets, Marty writes:
"The spring has been a whirlwind to say the least. I have been traveling (Fla. and Puerto Rico to surf ---and to Greenville NC to present on the Basketball Poet Program). I was able to teach about 60 middle school students about Basketball Poets through a program called AVID. It was awesome and I got some great writing from these kids (who are hard-working at-risk kids from poorer school districts).
Meanwhile my Basketball Poets had an AWESOME visit from Sharon Creech (I do have a video of this) and we performed at the Brunswick County Arts Alive!"
(Marty Mentzer introducing her Basketball Poets at their performance for the PTA)
Below, students meeting Sharon Creech.
Here's some background on the history of this fabulous group of students.
ABOUT THE BASKETBALL POETS:
"Basketball Poets" is the brainchild of Mrs. Marty Mentzer, who teaches physical education at Supply Elementary School in Supply, NC. When she was asked to tutor students at the school five years ago, she introduced poetry to the children with the book Love That Dog, by Newberry Award-winner Sharon Creech. Since then, Basketball Poets has developed into a club in which membership is earned and highly prized. For admission students must write their own poems and give them to the teacher on the first day of school. The first 25 are accepted. The fourth- and fifth-grade sections of Basketball Poets meet separately, once a week for 40 minutes. The sections come together for performances, in which they present their own poems and work by others. In addition to the title poem of the book the club began with -- "Love That Dog" -- the current repertoire includes "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Pasture," by Robert Frost, "Love That Boy," by William Dean Myers, "The Red Wheelbarrow," by William Carlos Williams, and the two poems presented here. The students' favorite poem is "The Tyger." Mrs. Mentzer's is "El Dorado."
The Basketball Poets won a $5,000 Innovation Grant from the National Education Association in 2004 and a $1,000 Bright Ideas Grant in 2005. The national student magazine Weekly Reader featured the group last April 2006. According to Mrs. Mentzer, besides being wonderful poets and performers, the club members "are also awesome basketball players."
Basketball Poets perform and read their poetry:
"Poem for Basketball Poets"
By Kaleb Holley
Running down the court JUMP
Bam Bam make that Basket
Come on team JUMP come
on team JUMP come on team
let’s make it our winning shot
come on let’s do it JUMP
Bam around the rim go in
go in Bam Bam hits ground
let’s go like a team and
let’s congratulate the other
teams and say good game yeah!
"Bridge Between Us"
By Alayna Miller
Build the bridge between us
with anger, hate, and woe.
Not really there but makes us apart
That sorry song the meadowlark sings,
as he lands on the angry bricks and concrete
Tearing years of laughter into shreds
of smiling faces and cheer. Who knew that
one little argument could do
so much to me? But you!
I didn’t know you could hold this
long, even when I am brought to tears!
Ping! The “I’m sorry” bounces off you
like a little rubber ball.
Oh! I give up! Sorry, but this can’t
go on. We were best buds for 4 years!
Bang the friendship ending to my chest
like a bullet in the heart. Just for
a boy, one measly little male! So
what if his eyes make you melt?!
Just forget it! We’re not even
at the enemy line. You’re a mortal foe!
by Tristan Murphy
they can be mysterious
or a piece of art
enter the heart
you can use pencils
with paint, you can
work in taxies or
work on a plane. it does not
matter where you create it
even if you’re in Kentucky, it does
not matter where you do it.
By Kamillah Newton
The best teachers
The best teachers
You need a shiny apple
The best teachers
The best teachers
Look above the counter
Look, there’s your shiny apple!
"Who to Choose"
by J. Paul Smith
Who to choose mom or dad. they
both Love me they both hug me
feed me most of all they
"The Fearful Suspension Bridge"
by Ian Niggles
There have been times in my life
when I have felt fear
like a suspension bridge
where the other side is not near
Going to school the first time
Being a shy boy
Would the teacher like me?
My mom’s words: Relax and Enjoy
Playing my first soccer game
at the age of four
Protesting in the car
Dad’s tender words: See what’s in store
Public speaking in my class
Sweat pours down for miles
Feeling like I should run
Friends’ encouragement through their smiles
Family and friends help me out
Cables on the bridge
give me security
help me reach the top of the ridge
My fears have been like a bridge
stretching on for miles
But family and friends
help me overcome with their smiles
(Tristan, Alyysa, and Ian)
"Thank you Jesus"
By Mitchell Barfield
I was lost
until I learned about the cross
Then I looked
in the book
Then I prayed
until I was saved
By Lee Tyan (pen name) a.k.a. Alyssa Miller
When I look at
the clouds I think of
heaven. When I look around me
I think of chaos and calamity.
When you go to heaven,
think how much better
it will be
(Alyssa Miller holding her Second Place Certificate from the Poetry Council of NC's Student contest.)