The 7th grade English classes finished their poetry unit by creating a portfolio with five types of original poems, including I Am, Free Verse, Rhyming, Haiku, and Limerick. Over the course of the unit, they had learned about SAWFIT, which stands for summary, analysis, word (choice), figurative (language), imagery, and theme, and worked to consider these elements when creating their poems. The students were also challenged to write about any topics they are inspired to explore, which results in a wide variety of work. “From their favorite moments of springtime, to sports, to stress and anxiety, or a love poem to their dog, I never really know what we are going to get,” said Maggie Dunson, 7th Grade English Teacher.
But the best part? They gathered at the Poetry Cafe to share their work with classmates.
“It was quite exciting listening to my classmates’ poems because they comprised the elements of SAWFIT, and they often took an unanticipated spin in order to rhyme,” said Shil Penilla ’26.
The Poetry Cafe sessions were held in the Alumnae Room and the Harris Reading Room, a space transformed by dim lighting, a glowing stool, streamers over the door, and other decorations. Some students participated via Zoom. These young poets enjoyed snacks while listening to their classmates recite poetry, snapping after each poem was read. Students were required to read at least two poems.
“Every year the students demonstrate creativity, vulnerability, and poise as they read personal poetry in front of their classmates. It’s one of my favorite activities all year,” Dunson said. “I love hearing what the students write about and always learn something new about my students.”
Carrie Clennon ’26 enjoyed the experience. “During the presentations, everyone had compliment cards for another person, and it felt great to read them after we read our poems. I will admit that I was nervous going up to the front of the room, but once I started my poem it felt a lot easier, and I felt proud of myself after,” she said. “I really enjoyed being able to write the poems and hearing everyone else’s writing. There are definitely some future poets in seventh grade! Overall it was a really fun experience, and I’m so glad that we finished our poetry unit like that. A special shout-out to Mrs. Dunson and Ms. Halverson who worked super hard to make sure that we could still have snacks and have a good time while we were presenting.”
Narya Phatak ’26 agreed. She said, “The poetry unit was fun because it was a new way to express our thoughts. The poetry cafe was very exciting! It was a nice, laid-back environment from the usual school setting with lights, cookies, and a nice presentation going on in the background. It was a safe space to talk to the class about our writing.”
The classes also watch a clip from Dead Poets Society every year, and Dunson repeats a quote from Robin Williams’ character throughout the unit: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering…these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
Congratulations to all our 7th grade poets!