The first poetry reading of fourth and fifth-grade students from Monroe Country Day School took place at The Cotton Cafe in downtown Monroe Tuesday – and by all accounts it was a “snapping” success.
“This is our first annual Coffee House Poetry Reading,” said Dr. Rita Dickinson, founder of MCDS. “The idea came when our fourth-grade teacher Judy Sanders asked me to listen to some of the poetry our students had written. I was floored.”
Dickinson said she and Sanders couldn’t believe the how far the students had come in such a short time and they decided to give the students the opportunity to share their poetry with others in the community. The audience, including the students, adopted the traditional response to a poetry reading of snapping their appreciation instead of clapping.
According to research, the snapping at a poetry reading is something that took hold back in the 1950s when poetry was read at coffee houses, sometimes with people living in the apartments above. The snapping was a way of showing appreciation without disturbing the residents who may be sleeping. Another story is that it is difficult to clap with a beer in your hand, hence the snapping with the other hand. That, however, was not a problem the young poets had to contend with. They happily snapped with both hands to show their appreciation for their classmates’ talents.
The budding young poets proudly read their pieces to the dinner crowd. It was a sold-out ticketed event that gave those in attendance an opportunity to see the progress of students at MCDS, which is coming to an end of its inaugural year.
The school is the realization of a dream for Dickinson who retired from the Walton County School District. Former WCSD Superintendent, Joe Bradley, just happened to walk in on the poetry reading event and took the opportunity to say how impressed he was with progress in Walton County, complimenting the young poets.
MCDS offers a model different from other traditional public and private schools in the county.
“Children are taught by using strategies that promote growth in character and becoming independent thinkers through a balance of scholarly enterprise and active participation in service learning and the arts,” Dickinson said when the school first prepared to open its door. As is the case with a garden children take care of at MCDS, events like the poetry writing and reading is another way to expand on the children’s education. It showcased the children’s individuality, character and in some cases sense of humor. It also gave them an opportunity to support each other when nerves took over.