A Special Poetry Event

To celebrate Robert Burns Night, Carmel High School Music, English and Special Education teachers teamed up to have students in the P.A.C.E. (or Personal, Academic and Community Experience) program sing Auld Lang Syne, which was written by the famous Scottish poet, write their own poems and read them to an audience.  

“This would help them with public speaking skills such as vocal projection and cadences within phrases, things that are also useful in music,” said music teacher Bryan Lynch, who wore his family clan's kilt for the event. "It was a really cool way of integrating different subjects together to reach a common goal."

The students in Denise Trach’s AP Literature class helped the P.A.C.E. students write poems using a Mad Libs style fill-in-the-blank sheet that Trach designed. Later, the P.A.C.E. students read their poems with assistance from the AP students. 

“Today I feel like a STAR HERO,” read Josh. “Sometimes I feel like a SUPERHERO. Other times I am a HUMAN. But I am always A GOOD GUY.”  

Patty, who wore a T-shirt featuring Emily Dickinson and the quote: “I dwell in possibility” read her poem, which described how she likes handball and dolls and being funny.  

The audience hooted and clapped for each reader, and the P.A.C.E. students clearly enjoyed being celebrated for their poems. Trach painted rocks with the words “I am a poet” for each of the students.  

After the reading, the group walked over to the P.A.C.E. "apartment" classroom where the students learn life skills like preparing a meal and maintaining a home.   

Then Lynch read a Burns poem aloud, attempting his best possible Scottish accent, before cutting into Haggis, a Scottish meat pudding.  

“It’s good,” Special Education teacher Maureen Labanowski said to skeptical diners.  

Labanowski helped plan the event. “We try to give the students as many varied experiences as we can,” she said.  

Some of the students hold internships at TOPS Supermarket and did shopping for the event, P.A.C.E. Coordinator Allison Woolston said. This is the first year P.A.C.E. students were able to fit music into their schedule, but Robert Burns Night has all the makings of an annual tradition.