Grantee Highlight: Bunnell Street Arts Center Seward Artists in the Schools

Bunnell Street Arts Center received a $1,000 mini-grant for their Seward Artists in the Schools Program. The program places professional artists in K-12 classrooms for residencies in Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) schools. It aims to support KPBSD’s Art Curriculum by inspiring Alaska’s youth with greater knowledge and respect for the arts and promoting appreciation for cultural diversity and world heritage.

In late March, Seward Middle and High Schools welcomed back Dasha Kelly-Hamilton and Kima Hamilton for the fourth year of their Spoken Word Poetry Workshop. “When I posted Flyers around the school, students immediately buzzed about Dasha and Kima’s return,” said Jennifer Swander, a Language Arts teacher at Seward High School. “A true connection has been made here.”

The Hamilton’s provided a dynamic unit in poetry and spoken word that empowered Seward Middle and High School students to further their knowledge and skills in writing poetry. Seward Middle and High School teachers created a schedule whereby the entire student body could participate in the workshop through their language arts classes. Dasha and Kima could design a curriculum based on each class’s experiences and needs. The workshop ended with a schoolwide poetry slam, where students were encouraged to perform the poems they wrote during the week.

“Students have learned how to express themselves through spoken word poetry,” said Jennifer Swander. “Some have been encouraged to come out of their shells, while others challenge themselves to read poems at open mic events at the community coffeehouse or compete at a national level. Whatever the case may be, the impact these workshops have had on students is quite evident.”

Funding for this grant came from the Seward Community Foundation Fund. If you would like to learn about how you can support projects like these, visit our website or email: seward@sewardcf.org.