Monday, July 16 , 2018, 3:39 am | Fair 65º


Santa Barbara Middle School, MTD Putting Poetry in Motion

Students share their thoughts and words of inspiration with the community through mini-sonnets posted inside and outside public buses

The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District is taking a page out of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority — a page of poetry, that is.

MTD and students at Santa Barbara Middle School have put “Poetry in Motion” this summer inside and outside of buses.

When Santa Barbara Middle School social studies teacher John Seigel-Boettner read in the New York Times that “Poetry in Motion” may be resurrected on trains and buses in Manhattan, he thought, why not here?

Santa Barbara Middle School community outreach director and admissions assistant Sue Carmody then floated the idea by MTD: “What if we had our students write two-line couplets — just simple, but inspirational poetry to celebrate life in Santa Barbara?” MTD agreed with the idea and was willing to give it a try.

Now dozens of sixth- through ninth-grade SBMS students have their mini-sonnets on the inside and outside of local public transit. Here’s a sampling:

“Publicly spirited citizens enlightendly ride the bus.” — Chris
“Resist reality: Live in the future and past, Embrace reality: Live in the now.” — Jessica
“Let yourself fall apart, when you do life starts.” — Marandah
“I hope that we all go blind one day, to see the world in a different way.” — Nicole

Eighth-grader Nicole Shanaberger writes that we shouldn’t judge others by just looking at them: “The world might be a little better if we got to know people by not just looking at their physical appearance.”

Here are a few more:

“The world … full of natural beauty, loved by a select few.” — Evy
“In my chest an earthquake, across the sea a heartbreak.” — Kendall
“Standing on the edge is more frightening than taking the plunge.” — Sammie

Ninth-grader Sammie Macneil loves to write and says this poetry project is great for those who don’t. “A lot of kids are embarrassed about sharing their poetry, so this is a great way to put it out there,” Macneil said.

“’Poetry in Motion’ fits in with middle school’s mission to be an independent school with a public purpose,” Carmody said. “It’s a great way to spread inspiration to the community — and how nice to give the students a real audience for their writing.”

Santa Barbara Middle School English teacher Teresa Jamison said it’s a great way for the public to see what kids are thinking.

“At this developmental stage, kids are filled with pearls of wisdom, words of advice, and words that make people think,” she said.

You’ll also find Head of School Brian McWilliams’ choice of quotes from William Butler Yeats on the back of a bus. It reads, “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”

These poetry placards may have ignited a fire for new ways to exhibit literary education in Santa Barbara. Ride the bus this summer and be inspired!

— Larry Good is a Santa Barbara Middle School parent.

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