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Sheffield Elementary School celebrates National Poetry Month with ‘poet trees’

  • RaeAnn Chadwick watches as her son, second-grader Cooper Hobbs, hangs his poem on a “poet tree” near Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Second-grader Cooper Hobbs hangs his poem about sports on a “poet tree” near Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Carly Skorupa watches her daughter, second-grader Hannah Skorupa, hang her poem at on a “poet tree” outside Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Second-grader Hannah Skorupa hangs her poem on a “poet tree” near Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • A poem by second-grader Hannah Skorupa hangs outside Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Poems are hanging on “poet trees” near Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls in celebration of National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/1/2020 2:47:43 PM
Modified: 5/1/2020 2:47:33 PM

TURNERS FALLS — National Poetry Month at Sheffield Elementary School usually centers around second-graders, who learn about the art form all year long. But this year, it morphed into a community-building project.

Second-graders learn how to read poetry by studying a new poem with their teachers every week from October through June, said Principal Melissa Pitrat. First they read the poem aloud; then they discuss what the poem seems to be about, which lines they like and why, what rhymes they notice, etc. Finally, they add it to the class’ poetry anthology.

When National Poetry Month rolls around in April, the second-graders pick a poem to print, decorate and hang around their necks using yarn, later carrying them in their pockets. On Poem in Your Pocket Day — April 30 this year — students in other grades are encouraged to ask the second-graders to read their poems aloud. Students are also encouraged to read their poems to family members at home.

This year, most of those activities were interrupted by the school closures resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. So, Sheffield kept Poem in Your Pocket Day, but opened it up to the local community.

“Because we’re isolated and people are home ... we thought this could be an extension and open it up to everybody, just for some community building,” Pitrat said.

Instead of reading poems aloud to others, students are posting poems on branches — called “poet trees” — stuck in the ground in front of the school. As well as second-graders, other students, teachers and people who live around the school have been asked to participate, Pitrat said. The event was promoted on Facebook, and mailboxes were set up in the neighborhoods around the school for people to submit poems.

The “poet trees” were set up by Wednesday afternoon, in time for Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, and poems can be posted at any time. Pitrat noted the branches are far enough apart so people can practice social distancing.

Reach Max Marcus at
mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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