St. Joseph's Indian School Students Enjoy Unique, Virtual Poetry Experience
By: Danielle Kucera, St. Joseph’s Indian School
(Chamberlain, S.D.) –From February 1 to 5, St. Joseph’s Indian School—a member of the American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN)—welcomed Lawrence Diggs back to campus as part of the South Dakota Arts Council Artists in Schools & Communities Program. Diggs is a well-known writer, designer and editor from Roslyn, S.D. He has worked in radio, television and public performance for more than 40 years. He is the designer and editor of the South Dakota State Poetry Society’s annual chapbook.
During the residency, Diggs provided virtual-instruction to 7th and 8th grade English classes through a Zoom learning experience. He worked all week closely with each class to help students find new ways to express themselves through poetry. The end goal is to put together a book of student poetry from his teachings soon.
Diggs helps students learn through self-discovery, experience and personal struggle. One student’s poem expressed what resistance meant to him:
No matter how hidden a force is, it will always attract some kind of resistance.
As I was going up for a layup, there was a defender right with me. I met resistance.
As I went to an interview, the person before me got the job. I met resistance.
As I was going through the hole, the linebacker got there before me. I met resistance.
Students said writing poetry was fun but a bit challenging. “It was hard and strained my brain. Diggs was always cheerful and happy to see us,” said one student.
“I get a deep and ecstatic satisfaction from students learning even one little thing about themselves or overcoming some block that was keeping them from progress in their lives. I believe poetry can be a tool to accomplish these goals,” said Diggs.
The visit was made possible in part through the South Dakota Arts Council Artists in Schools & Communities (AISC). AISC is a residency program for K-12 schools and community organizations, with matching funds from the South Dakota Arts Council.
More Than 220 Native American students in first through twelfth grade find hope and opportunity through our educational, counseling, and residential programs. Strengthened by spirituality and culture, St. Joseph’s Indian School transforms lives—mind, body, heart and spirit—every day. Visit us at www.sjiskids.org and www.stjo.org.