When Chaminade held a Poetry Festival this fall, the words of Kaimuki High School students captured the attention of their audience with words arranged like music, punctuating the air with meaning and feelings and insight. The audience grew to standing-room-only on the lawn of Sullivan Family Library that November evening. All listened intently, fearful of missing one word or one inflection which might change the whole message.
Chaminade students from professor Brooke Carlson’s 102 English class listened more closely than others to the 10th, 11th and 12th graders. After all, the Chaminade students had worked with these high schoolers for seven shifts of one and a half hours per shift in small groups throughout the semester. The service-learning project had included activities such as vocabulary lessons and practice, teaching the SEE (sentence, example, explanation) paragraph, using a favorite song or a short story, and editing and revising written work. The Chaminade students had engaged themselves and were vested.
Carlson and Candice Sakuda, the director of Chaminade’s Service-Learning program, have been working together on a service-learning project with Kaimuki High School since 2013. “We’ve linked our English courses’ curricula to service within Kaimuki’s classes, helping high school kids who need help with English and self-expression,” said Sakuda. “At the start of each term, Carlson’s EN102 students learn about their service-learning project, through which they serve as role models, motivators, and mentors for Mrs. Mary Ann Akamine’s English classes at Kaimuki High School.”
Carlson explained, “One of the things that drew me to Chaminade was the Service-Learning program. I want my students to take what they learn through my courses out into the real world for life. The more we can build, craft and cultivate with those around us, the better.” He added, “I am blessed in that literature is an expression of being human. Service-learning provides more space for practicing our humanity.”
This year, twelve Kaimuki High School students read their poems at the festival. “The performances were fantastic,” said Sakuda. “Through original poetry, the students shared their feelings about friends’ betrayals, about disrespect for the Hawaiian culture, and about family struggles, inner conflict and loss. Tears and long embraces followed so many performances.”
After the performances, Carlson’s students were filled with “faculty pride” knowing that they had something to do with their students’ success.