For the past 6 weeks, 8th graders have partnered with peer mentors to deep dive into the Reality Changers family and start their journey to college graduation. This week their 6 week mentorship ended with an event–the 8th Grade Poetry Slam. During the poetry slam, students either presented their poem live, or through a pre-recorded video. 8th graders got to hear each other’s stories of how unique each one of them are while bonding over similar challenges, successes, and goals. Each 8th grade student worked with their mentor to create a “reflection poem.” Mentees were given sentence starters and were asked to reflect on their past, present and future.
When thinking about their past, students highlighted familiar sights and sounds that shaped them. Adam noted “Growing up I saw both my parents working and coming home late at night. I remember waiting after school for my mom to come home.” Another student, Eric reflected “Growing up I saw my sister working hard and that motivated me to work hard.” Marveen highlighted “Growing up I heard lots of stuff about how life works and how you can make your future good by working hard.” while Margaret remembered “Growing up, I heard the buzzing of the tv late at night during my parents’ arguments.”
When thinking about their present, students reflected on their current feelings and their highs and lows. Aracely stated “This year I had some ups and downs. I struggled with my grades but I also learned how to reach out and ask for help.” Evelyn had similar challenges: “I struggled with the pressure of maintaining good grades, but I’ve learned how to stay calm and collective with the help of music.” Other students like Meybelin reflected on the mixed emotions of a one-of-a-kind year: “Lately, I have been feeling tired, stressed, bored, excited, happy, and sad. This year I have struggled with my English Language Development (ELD) class, but I also got to know some great tutors.” Adam shared “I have been feeling anxious and confident. I procrastinated on my assignments, but I also learned it’s more stressful to do late assignments.”
After students shared their past influences, their current success and challenges, students shared what their future will look like and the support systems they will have next year as they take on their goals in high school. Juan highlighted “I want to join the Sabe club at Hoover High School because it is related to construction and I am interested in becoming a mechanical engineer.” Aracely noted “I know next year might be tough, but I have Reality Changers who will give me support such as tutoring and motivation to do my work and get my grades up.” Meybelin also shared “I can also count on my family because they are always teaching me new things, pushing me to keep on going, and to try harder to not give up.” Finally, Eric shared “Wait until you see me next fall at Hoover High School. When I get there I hope to get better grades in order to make my mom proud.”
After the poetry slam, one peer mentor shared how “The poem made her [mentee] get out of her comfort zone and prepare for new challenges. Her confidence is way better.” We are so proud of the work these 8th graders have taken on this year–defying challenge after challenge to make it to their next step of a high school career on the track toward college. High school here they come!