Finding Freedom: An Every Day Mood

Student writing from John Jay High School of Law 10th Grade Students

Amina Henry, Writer-in-Residence, Spring 2019


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It’s been a pleasure to work with students at John Jay High School of Law. For this residency we had a thematic focus on oppression and liberation, exploring the voices of those who have been oppressed while also exploring spaces of liberation. We read and discussed the exhilarating and thought-provoking work of a diverse range of poets such as Frank O’Hara, Langston Hughes, Jericho Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Natalie Diaz, danez smith, Frank Stanford, Ruth Stone, Pablo Neruda, and Sjohnna McCray. Through lunes, odes, manifestos and free verse, as well as a concentrated focus on metaphor and theme, we examined the power of  wordsmiths to make change. We discovered that a road to liberation can be paved with words – we can create the change we want to see in the world, and in fact, we must. We can make the world more meaningful, more beautiful, and more just by, for a start, using our imaginations and being brave.

I want to thank Principal Glauner, Assistant Principal Shtyrkalo and Mr. Joyce for welcoming me into your school to work with your students. I also want to thank Mr. Strong and Ms. Chairman.

Lastly, thank you and congratulations to all of the participating students. I’m very pleased with the work you created during our time together. We began every class session with a call and response. “I have a voice, my voice is powerful, my voice can change the world!” More than ever, I have faith that your voices can change the world for the better.

Featured Student Writing

Class Manifesto

by first period writing workshop students, 10th grade

We will do little things in the hopes of changing big things.

Nothing is easy. Don’t be afraid to say your opinion.

Have fun, but work hard!

Don’t let the system control you. Be your own person.

We believe that nobody has the answer for everything.

We believe the world is unfair and unjust.

We also believe that we are evolving for the better.

The world is full of different opportunities.

We don’t know if the U.S. is the land of the free.

We want to live in an equal and fair world. We want to live in a world of clean air.

We will put our differences aside and speak out.

We will treat everyone equally.

We will do little things in the hopes of changing big things.


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