Making sure every student has educational options includes providing social and emotional support for students at El Centro Jr./Sr. High School—a Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) juvenile court school program inside the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility. The integration of the arts—including things like writing and poetry—helps the students stay engaged.
At an October 6 celebration, El Centro students celebrated the release of “Dark Past, Bright Future,” a book of their own poetry and prose, published in partnership with 916 Ink. They took turns at the podium to present some of their work, singing and reading poetry. The event concluded with a reading of “Homesick,” a poem written by one of 916 Ink’s “Wordslingers,” writing coach/instructor Nena Larieze. After a moment of pause, she shared that the poem she’d written reflected her journey and that by embracing education, she found a home. Here is what she read to the students:
I was homeless, too—
I know you may not be able to tell, well, because I clean up
Nice, and my self-worth is now
Adorned by expensively framed master’s degrees that frame
The reflections of my hazel-eyed and open-hearted children,
But despite this—
I still spend most of my days
Self-actualized feelings of worthlessness. (1-14)
916 Ink is a nonprofit creative writing and literacy organization in Sacramento that encourages youth to become strong readers, confident communicators, and published authors. The organization is a longtime partner, offering SCOE students a variety of literacy-building and life skills. Since 2010, the nonprofit has published more than 250 anthologies and helped more than 5,500 local students become published authors.
“Dark Past, Bright Future” will be available for purchase online.