A new series of books has been published that showcases the work of elementary and middle school students from the Syracuse City School District.
Led by the Say Yes to Education program, these kids produced a collection of poems and short stories that give a look at how they view life and process world around them. Principal Dare Dutter at Dr. Weeks Elementary School led the ceremony at which these books were unveiled, “There's a lot of people that don't have any idea of what goes on in the minds and the hearts of these kids. This is a way for them to convey that; to share that with the world. And it’s a powerful thing, to me.”
The first book, entitled “Rainbow”, features a collection of poems by elementary students that deals their perceptions of different colors. The second is entitled “What You See Is Not Me”. The book presents the work of older, middle school students that created fictional stories from real life media stories.... stereotypes and images. 15 year-old Negeno Abdi is originally from Kenya, “...I am a 14 year old boy. I pretend to enjoy my life, I feel sad when I hear someone die. I touch my chest when I'm feeling sad. I worry about what's going to happen next. I cry when I feel alone in this darkness."
The emotion behind these writings has had a strong effect on the administrators watching the process happen. H – W - Smith Principal Sharon Birnkrant recognizes just how powerful these ideas and experiences are, despite the young age of the authors, “They wrote about real-life situations that involve coming to America, abuse. All those kinds of things that suburban kids don't have that opportunity to learn about. So, our kids are expressing what it is to be a global citizen.”
Altogether, the Say Yes series includes 13 books, involving 250 Syracuse City School District students as well as 180 Syracuse University students. Copies are being distributed for free at the public schools and around the city. The National Grid Foundation supported the project.