Thursday, April 8, 2010

America Scores – Poetry and Soccer


Two Cleveland students will represent the city on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at America SCORES National Poetry SLAM!

CLEVELAND, OH – Two students from Walton K-8 School on Cleveland’s near West Side will represent America SCORES Cleveland on Monday, April 19 at the Fourth Annual National Poetry SLAM! in New York City. Gonzalo Villafan and Amairani Valerio, both age 11 and Cleveland Metropolitan School District fifth-graders, will perform their original works of poetry on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange along with 26 poet-athletes from the other 13 America SCORES affiliate cities.

Gonzalo and Amairani were chosen to represent America SCORES Cleveland (ASC) last November at ASC’s 2009 Poetry SLAM! held at John Hay High School. Judges selected the two from 16 individual poet-athletes who shared their original works before an audience of over 500.

“I am excited to show what I feel inside of me. Poetry allows me to do that,” shared Gonzalo when asked about his upcoming performance.

This freedom of expression has helped Gonzalo conquer his fears in the classroom, on stage and even in the doctor’s office. Gonzalo translates for his parents, who speak little English. Although it is difficult for Gonzalo to translate medical terms he does not even understand, he does it because he loves to help his mother, Maria, while at his 6-month-old sister’s doctor appointments. SCORES has empowered Gonzalo to speak for those who sometimes cannot. Gonzalo plans to capture the audience with his topical poem “Balloon Boy”, based on the balloon hoax pulled by Colorado parents last October.

Amairani has benefited from ASC in a similar way. She joined SCORES a year ago, when, at the time, she spoke very little English. However, Walton K-8 School’s dual language program in which students are immersed in both Spanish and English instruction paired with SCORES writing curriculum has helped Amairani master English in a very short period of time. Her dedication to her education is apparent. Despite moving to Cleveland’s East Side this fall, Amairani catches several buses to attend fifth-grade at Walton K-8 in Ohio City every morning.

Her progress is astounding and the SCORES program has aided her progress, allowing her to explore words and language. Today, Amairani speaks and writes with nearly flawless English, as evidenced by her inspirational poem “Poetry” that she will perform in New York City.
This year, the National Poetry SLAM! will honor Sunil Gulati, president of the US Soccer Federation as it celebrates the accomplishments of poet-athletes from around the country.


America SCORES Cleveland is an affiliate of America SCORES, a national model for sports-based youth development targeting girls and boys in urban neighborhoods. America SCORES Cleveland serves 384-students ages 8-12 in eight Cleveland Metropolitan Schools located within the Glenville, Hough, Fairfax, North Broadway/Slavic Village, Puritas-Longmead, and Ohio City neighborhoods. This five-day per week after-school program works to enrich the lives of inner-city youth through regular participation and skill building in soccer, creative writing, and service-learning. Teamwork – the key to success in both education and sports -- is the common denominator.

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau