Friday, January 30, 2009

Lincoln High School

Not only did Melanie Blagburn's students at Lincoln High School in San Leandro participate enthusiastically in the Letters to Obama Poetry Project, many of them voted for the first time in this election, and several of them worked the polls. The photo above is of the Obama Wall in their classroom. Thank you to these students for their commitment to the democratic process and for sharing their experiences with us!

I Told You

It’s a cold, early morning
The breeze is slipping through the window seal
I’m up, like I’m getting ready for school
I can hear the heater blowing warm air from the ceiling vent
Under my feet the carpet sweeps as I dash into the bathroom
Today is the day I can look you in your face and say
“Ha-ha, I told you Obama would be president!”

I’m in the bathroom
I take a shower and hum the words of Tupac’s song “Change”
I brush my teeth, wash my face, eat my breakfast, throw away my plate
Smile and kiss my mom good bye because
Today is the day I can look you in your face and say
“Ha-ha I told you Obama would be president!”

Out the door, I’m running late
The polls open at seven in the morning, I have to be there at six
I race down the street, the thought of being late is making me sick
I pass cats, dogs, ants, birds, trees
I can feel cool breezes and smell bacon, eggs with cheese
Today is the day I can look you in your face and say
“Ha-ha I told you Obama would be president!”

I’m at the polls, things are running slowly
I’m looking down the list
There are lots of Democrats so it’s bliss
People crying, hatred’s dying, birds flying, spirits soaring
As we kiss Old America good bye and say hello to change because
Today is the day I can look you in your face and truly say
“Ha-ha, I told you Obama would be president!”

—Derrick Monk

Poem to Barack Obama: YES WE DID!!!!

As November 4, 2008 approached
Around the world, I had a very
Anxious feeling about something.

As I worked the polls I saw all different
Kinds of people come in to vote
To help make a difference.

Negativity stood in the way of a
CHANGE. Everyone had their opinion.

As we packed up from working
The polls, I wondered in thought.

I walked in the house to tears
Of joy, rooting, screaming, chanting,
And the sound of champagne bottles
Being opened.

“Thank You Jesus” my grandma yelled
While tears rolled down her beautiful BROWN

“Ring Ring Ring” I hear the telephone
Ringing continuously. Still standing in the
Doorway in shock I felt the muscles in
My face crack a big wide smile.

As I walked completely in the house
I joined in with all the chanting and

I then looked behind me on the big
Screen TV. And saw “Barack Obama-President
Elect” in big bold letters.

Tears rolled down my face, and I joined
With my grandma to thank Jesus.

Thank you for giving us a change Jesus,
Thank you for letting me see history Jesus,
Thank you for Barack Obama Jesus!!!

As the noise around me started to drain
Into a fade and everything around me
Seemed to move in slow motion. I stood
Proudly in the center of the living room
Floor and shouted

“YES WE DID!!!!!!!!!!”

—Nakayla Lipsey

A Sonnet for Obama

Obama has already changed the world!
Can he repair the damage Bush has done?
And the U.S not being broke would help!
Can we even get out of debt right now?

But we have come too far to give up now!
Things I would say to him are: “To stay strong,
Keep your head up and get a decoy fast!
Drop the Secret Service, use thugs instead”!

Do you think you can refresh our budget?
How does it feel to be the first Black Pres?
I’m excited for change in the U.S!
I’m still worried about our debt problems!

I wish him real good luck in the White House!
I’m just glad that President Bush is out!

—Tiondra Johnson

Obama Poem

I need change.
Personal priorities,
Immigration Laws,
Improvement with our economic struggle

Our youth, our schools

Follow through on your word
Be wise on big decisions
Don’t lie
Liars can’t be trusted

How do you feel overall about everything?
Are you worried?
What’s your main concern right now?

It’s exciting to feel you could trust your president

Worries :
Not many except that it might be too good to be true.

—Maggie Gutierrez

A Change Has Come

You are one to admire and one to observe
Your strength wisdom and kindness
Are ones we all could learn
There are those who have mocked you
And said you were naive
But you are more than qualified
So much you have achieved

Through the valley you have walked
And on the podium now you stand
To guide us in these hard times
And lead us to the end
More than courage, you give us faith
In hopes that we can all believe
That with your help this country
Will one day be all it can be


Raquel Larios


Before you walked in
Life seemed rough
Nothing can be done
When things are tough

When you walked in
I felt at ease
Change is coming
Damn what a relief

If you can do
What you just said
Then at ease I know
I can lie in bed

—Ana Liku

Obama’s Super-Phone

Reinstate our slugging economy

Make education top priority

Bring peace & prosperity

It’s not that hard with your Blackberry

—Chris Dougherty

Doing a Favor for All of Us

Do a favor for all of us

Reinforce our dreams with hope

Reinstate our slugging economy with confidence

Reinforce our education with funds

Reinstate our healthcare system with quality and availability

Do a favor for all of us

—Chris Dougherty

Poem to Obama

When you become President look out for the real trouble in the world
Go to the real life hard times
Let people know that you truly care, let them know the real you

I know that you are a good man so it won’t be hard to make good choices
Never let people bring you down, keep your head up high
Some one as generous as you only deserves good light.
Try to stay away from the dark but don’t be afraid of it

Obama you’re the man of the year
And it should stay that way for eight more
I will never doubt your smooth words and speeches
To me you are the best thing this country has

—Iris Gutierrez


More jobs
More to the poor & needy
More education
No advice to the president
Because he is the PRESIDENT
He should know what to do

No room for racism…
People discriminate
Because of his color
BUT color doesn’t matter
Because its time for a change!

—Corinna Anontaxay

So Many
(Obama Poem)

So many years
So many tears

Obama you’re finally here.

Unfortunately they’ve placed
difficult tasks for you and
your peers

So many things to do
So many things to say

Obama fix the economy today

So many hopes
So many dreams

Obama remain the person the people chose
you to be

—Oscar Martinez


It's time for a change
It's time to rearrange things and do things right
Obama, the first president that’s the same color of the night....

—Daniel Bueno

Cleveland Elementary School

California Poets in the Schools poet-teacher Maureen Hurley has been writing Letters to Obama with several classes at Cleveland Elementary School in Oakland, California. Below are selections from her work with Ms. Smith's and Ms. Loeser's classes.

Poem for President Obama

I remember the music,
the nectar of a sweet flower
in the field of peace
All the bees lured to you
Like all the people of joyfulness
About your sweet, powerful speech.
Your happiness is like the wind,
Never ending.
We are the USA
You listen to us with honesty and hope.
You are the first of a color
President, but I don't care
I care about a good president
Who is easy with people
But help like it is hard
You are the missing puzzle piece
To the American puzzle
We hoped for joy and we got it
For you were the joy.

—Maria, Ms. Smith's 3rd grade

Dear Obama,

I remember your speech
It made everyone cry
You made good speeches to the world
I remember the songs
it was in my heart
I could never let it go
I have a dream for you
To be elected President.
I know that Martin Luther King
Changed some laws
for the Black people
To get to sit in front of the bus
I dream that you'll come to
Cleveland School, in Oakland, CA
So I could meet you.

—Sandi, Ms. Smith's 3rd grade

Dear President Obama,

Remember the homeless that are hungry
Like ducks in a pond in the park of fun
That lets children flow like the wind
In the grace of the sky
That has the justice of the clouds
Love can beat the hatred hearts
Of the people that do not have love and hopes.
We need the world to change
Like the hearts of the people.

Remember the sacrifices of the people
That floated into the heaven of the gods
That are controlling happiness and sadness
The water of dreams is collecting the dreams
Of the people that are sad.
The dreams of the people are floating away
As soft as a feather
A drop of tears flies away
From the people of sadness
And into the tears of love.
We, the people, are here to change the world
With grace and hope.

—Jessica, Ms. Smith's 3rd grade

Poem for President Obama

Did you know that I also like to play basketball?
Remember, when you're in defense
You switch your mode to offense
Like you could back your opponent's shot
Like when you're in back of him.
Can I ask you a question?
When it's nighttime
Do you sleep or do you keep writing a speech?
Did Bush give you the keys to the White House?
Remember to live long and be healthier
I have a dream that the earth
Would live peacefully.
Keep earth alive
We want peace.

—Andy, Ms. Smith's 3rd grade

Advice to President Obama

Please speak the truth to America
Please help animals of the planet
Help get people involved in community work
Help stop global warming
Why don't we have a Secretary of the Arts
In the United States?
Please respond to this.

P.S. I'm glad you're our president.

—Crystal, Ms. Loeser's 5th grade

Garfield Elementary

Students in several classes at Garfield Elementary in San Leandro, California, wrote letters and poems to President Obama. They will be sharing their work at a school assembly on February 18.

Dear Mr. Obama,

I'm so happy that you're our 44th president of these United States. Your ideas and thoughts made me change who I am. I'm doing better in school, listening to my parents, and not following any bad influences. When you say change, it reminds me on what I need to do, change myself. Also, it might be odd, but it also reminds me of Biggie Smalls. As he once said before he passed away, "Before we can change the world, we have to change ourselves first." That's not
the only reason why I'm happy you're our 44th president. You inspire me and a lot of people around the world. An African American for a president makes me think, if Obama can make it, I can too. As long as I have high hopes and dreams. So I owe you a thanks, Thank you!


Tisgar, 5th grade

Dear Mr. Barack Obama,

I'm so proud of you being the first African American president. I'm also a person of color, a Mexican American. You're also very smart and so polite. I would like to meet you in person. You make me feel that anything is possible. I'm hopeful that you can make the changes you talked about in the inauguration. You are a courageous person, and I wish you much success.


Hugo, 3rd grade


P is for peace and the protection you will bring to our country
R is for the reliable and responsible person you seem to be
E is for an exceptional mind
S is for trying to stop the war
I is for intelligent and independent thinker
D is for dependable and dignified
E is for an empathic speaker
N is for being a noble leader man
T is for talented leader

B is for bold leader
A is for adaptable to change
R is for respectful of other people's ideas
A is for gathering an alliance of bright minds to help you
C is for creative thinking outside the box
K is for kind

O is for optimistic
B is for believing in us "Yes We Can"
A is for auspicious leader
M is for magnificent mind
A is for ambassador to the world

—Aiya, 3rd grade


P is for presence of mind and front and center work in our country's needs
R is for right on because you believe "Yes, We Can!"
E is for economic urgency required for health needs for our young and old alike
S is for safely stopping the war and bringing the troops home
I is for an independent thinker who will not let us down
D is for defender of people all around the world
E is for entering our heart
N is for noble and kind
T is for topnotch thinker

B is for bold thinking
A is for access to all our hearts and minds
R is for being elected right on time
A is for achieving hard-earned goals
C is for his calm and cool personality
K is for knowledgeable leader

O is for over the top father
B is for bright-minded and bold
A is for able to do the job
M is for mighty smart
A is for asking us what we need and showing that you care

—Nicolle, 3rd grade


P is for PATRIOTIC which our new president is
R is for RARE and uncommon
E is for EDUCATION which is one of Obama's main targets
S is for STOP the war
I is for IDOL which Barack is
D is for DIGNITY
N is for NICE

B is for BLESS HIS HEART for being our president
R is for REASSURING the American people
A is for AMBITIOUS goals
K is for KINDHEARTED father

B is for BOLD leader
A is for ACHIEVING the first African American presidency
M is for MIGHTY intelligent
A is for ABILITY to lead his country

—Julio, 3rd grade

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A new addition from overseas

Forth Primary School, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

More from Mark Twain and Golightly

Mr. Pete has been very busy with his elementary school students in Detroit:

If You are a Good President

If you are a good president
You will tell the people not to pollute the air
With cars and motorcycles.

If you are a good president
End this killing and ganging up.
If you are a good president

Don’t let people kill because
This is a matter of life and death.

—Robert, Golightly Education Center

Advice to the Next President

Keep your elf out of the dog house.
Be sure to feed a lion fish.
Be sure to be powerful.
Always believe in yourself.
Look for pride.
Do not keep this war going.
End this stressful and hurtful war.
Because it’s been going on
For a long time and it’s killing people
And is making the world difficult.

—Curtis, Golightly Education Center

Advice to the Next President

Be sure to never lie.
Always help kids.
Look happy after you’re elected.
Remember to not act a fool
when you are president.
Keep encouraging kids
that they can make a change in the world.
Do not say you can’t do it.

—Reagan, Golightly Education Center

Advice to the Next President

Don’t rush.
Don’t forget to talk so that everyone can hear you.
Keep your descriptions inside your mind.
Make sure your speeches make sense.
Look at what you’re doing.
Always keep your head up high.
Keep the wolves in the backyard.
Be sure to end with a great sentence.

—Ja’la, Golightly Education Center

Advice to the Next President

Look in the camera when you’re talking.
Follow your dream.
Pray that you win every day.
Don’t lie about what you feel.
Tell the whole world.
Keep on trying if you fail.
Remember what the other guy said.
Then when you speak to him
Tell him what he said and you can catch him in a lie.

—Mia, Mark Twain Elementary

Advice for the Next President

Never sneeze twice into the same bowl of soup.
Always say good night to yourself.
Remember to soak your feet in chocolate.
Cut the lights off when going to sleep.
Don’t forget to eat the flowers.
Watch out for that talking dog.
Reach for the stars and the moon.
Sleep with your eyes open.
Believe in the man with the hat.

—Antonio, Mark Twain Elementary

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New additions

Jasper-Troupsburg Central School (Troupsburg, New York)
Fairmount Elementary (San Francisco, California)
San Francisco Friends School (San Francisco, California)
White Pines Middle School (Grand Haven, Michigan)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Elizabeth Alexander's Inaugural Poem

An extra joy on this momentous day: Watching hundreds of thousands of Americans listening intently to a poem. Below is Elizabeth Alexander's "Praise Song for the Day."

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Friday, January 16, 2009

ER Taylor Elementary School

Poems from ER Taylor Elementary in San Francisco, courtesy of (very busy) California Poets in the Schools poet-teacher Maureen Hurley:


Please stop the war.
Help the people with cancer in the hospitals.
Don't forget to sniff the fruit salad.
Don't forget to tell jokes to the paperclips
on your desk in the White House.
Will you please banish guns
and turn them into lollipops?
Help the people who need money and jobs.
What are you going to do about the war?
Don't forget to look for aliens in the attic
and under the bed.
Make a time machine
so the earth always stays green
so we can live happily ever after.
Will you make new laws for our citizens?
For you are the first
African American President
of happiness and justice for all.

—Ms. Borer's 3rd grade class


Don't overreact to the little problems
Help stop global warming
Make a better nation out of us
Help our environment
become safer and cleaner
The universe is counting on you
We believe in you
I have hope and trust in you
This is a new beginning for America
We're on your side.



Hello President Obama
Keep the sand out of your shoes
Help the homeless
You love all people
End the wars
Be strong
Play nice
Be strong



Don't get in trouble
Be calm.
Be ready.
Don't spoil yourself.
Answer the phone.
Say: How are you?
Do the best for us.
Learn karate.
Prevent war.
Upgrade the technology.
Make robots.
Make the earth
have no earthquakes.



We voted for you because of your speech
If what you said was true
This could be a new world
Help stop global warming
Animals are losing their homes
Help people find better jobs
It's up to you to help this world
Don't ignore your dog
Remember to take great care of it
You could be the best president we ever had
Good luck and good night!


Cleveland Elementary School

Poems from Cleveland Elementary School, courtesy of California Poets in the Schools poet-teacher Maureen Hurley:


Don't forget to work in the garden
Don't forget to put the seed in the soil
Don't forget to water the plants
Be sure to pull the carrots and weeds out
or they will become too short and fat.
Don't forget to be a good teacher
and be a good president.
Don't forget to be a good father
to your daughters, Melia and Sasha.
Be sure to go to their school and visit
If they have an art show or something.
Don't forget to water the garden every day.

—Ms. Auyoung's 1st grade students


Please help the homeless find homes
and help them to find jobs and money.
I like that you're the president
because I like your advice to the world.
Obama, please help the people in need
who don't have jobs or food.
Please help the people who are in danger.
Help them to be safe.
Obama, please help the kids
who don't have pencils or papers in the schools.
Obama, help the schools to get more money.
We need more crayons in the classrooms.
Don't forget to feed the chickens and the ducks.
Don't forget to feed your hands,
and feed your hair and feed your head.
Please stop the war.
Please stay healthy and strong.
It is good to brush your teeth before bed.
You should have fun at the White House.
Don't forget to sleep late.
Remember to always have a nice day.
And you should look at the news
every day, for a long time.
Don't fight at all.
Yes, we’re serious.
P.S. We like your decisions.

— Ms. Robinson's 1st grade class


Please find homes for homeless people.
Help old people to cross the street.
Remember to help the sick children in need.
Don't forget to put the chickens on the barn.
Don't forget to feed the dog.
Don't waste electricity or water
Don't waste paper. Fight global warming,
Be safe from danger. Be away from strangers
Never be tired, be nice to others
when they be nice to you.
Remember to teach your children to play carefully.
Remember to water the garden.
Don't let the foxes eat your chickens.
Please make life and peace in the world.
Remember to make the whole world safe.
Please make the world a better place.

—Ms. Schalet's 2nd grade class


Obama, please make guns
and land mines into food and clothes,
make them into monies and shoes
Make the earth a better community
Keep your family healthy
Don't forget to smell the food and drinks
Obama, every day you should do sports
and get exercise.
Why don't you get a horse
and make sure the horse is healthy.



Remember to be nice.
Tell people not to fight.
Don't forget to feed the cow.
Go to a contest of basketball.
Obama, you're my favorite president.
Obama, I would like to visit you.
Obama, I hope you like this poem.
Always take care of the children.
I hope your daughter could become President Make sure the world is clean.
You can make a better world,
Obama, be brave.



We would love it if you can come visit.
May you please lower the gas station prices?
Can you tell people to not kill the trees
because we need air.
Obama, can you help my cousin
because his dad is in Mexico.


3 new additions!

Lakeshore Middle School (Grand Haven, Michigan)
Hellgate Middle School (Missoula, Montana)
Washington Elementary (Evanston, Illinois)

Hillsdale High School

From the amazing Marty Roberts, ESL teacher at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California (check out Newsweek's May 2008 article on how Hillsdale is a small school making a "big difference" here):

Dear President-elect Obama,

My name is Maria. I am a Latina student at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California . I hope you are well. Now that you have a lot work to do, I want to tell you that I am very proud because you are making your dream come true. Like you, I have a dream in my life. Influence people to not discriminate against others for their appearance or because they come from another country. My dream is very hard to achieve, but I hope you can help me to change the wrong ideas that people have in our country because the world where we lived has many bad influences. I think that if we work together we will make a difference by changing the perspective of racist people. My other hope is that you can help me to stop deporting families. I know that you can perfectly understand this situation because you have a family and you would not like, that a group of people came to your home and separated you from the people you love. I thank you for paying attention to my letter and I hope you can collaborate with me.



Dear President Obama:

Hello! My name is Haruka. I’m Japanese student. About two years ago I came to the U.S. and started to learn English at Hillsdale high school in San Mateo, California. I have many hopes and changes for the future, and I want you to know about them. First, I hope to decrease a number of homeless people and number of people who lose their jobs. As you know, the economic condition is bad; so many people are losing their jobs, and some of them have become homeless. Other countries have gotten economic damage from the U.S. as well. I really want to change the economy, but I do not have power to change. I do not have an idea to change the economic so that I hope you to make economic condition better than now. This is important because if the economy becomes better, many people can get a better life.
Likewise, there are still some wars in the world, and everyday some people are losing their relatives or friends. I hope peace will prevail in the world; I want a peaceful world. This is important for me because I believe that nobody wants to have war even those people who are fighting right now. I also believe that everybody should have a chance for a happy life. So, please change our world by collaborating with other countries or having more communication time with them. Finally, if there is something that I can do, I could help you.



Dear President Obama:

Hello! My name is Chia-Ying. I’m from Taiwan, and I moved to California two years ago. As the new President, I am looking forward to seeing you change the bad events of the past and create a bright new future.
As the world is changing, I see the conditions of life living is getting worse. Therefore, I would like to see some improvements of the issues that we’re facing and earn a better living condition. I would like to see the changes of providing more health cares to citizens; the raising of economy which people don’t have to worry about the existing of money; fix the global warming- encourage people to do recycle; no war anymore the cause to much for everyone living around the Earth; increasing of the education fund so students can focus of the work that their supposed to instead of worrying about the tuition.
Certainly, as a citizen of the United States, I would like to congratulate President Obama is becoming our new president of America.

Yours sincerely,


Dear President Obama:

My name is Ali and I was born in 1993 in Iran. In the U.S. there are few problems that are very important. For instance, global warming, gas prices, health care, wars between countries around the world are external conflicts that can be changed with some helps. I would like to see everybody have healthcare and be able to go to the hospital. This is important because the healthcare is not affordable and many people have problem to pay for the healthcare. Fixing the healthcare can help the country in few ways because the healthier the people the healthier the country is. Peace between the countries also will help everybody because the technology will be better and the life will be easier. Life and technology are related because we can use technology to do things that are impossible for humans. For example, if there is peace between countries and every human being, we can work together and be able to solve the unsolved mysteries of life. Also we can find life in another planet and move to the other planet if the global warming destroyed the Earth. Global warming is another big problem that can be solved with teamwork and recycling. This will help us to have to a cleaner earth and healthier people and need fewer healthcare.



Dear President Obama:

My name is Matey and I came from Bulgaria in August 2006. Right now, I am a student in 11th grade and live in San Mateo, California. After you become President of the United States, I hope to see some improvements in this country that will advance my life and the life of my family. First, I would like the immigrants’ education from their countries to be counted so they would continue to work based on their profession and experience that they have from the past. My parents have BAs from Sofia University and 25 years of experience as journalists at Bulgarian News Agency. Now, they have to change their profession and start their life from the very beginning. It is too hard because they are not young people. Another one of the biggest problems is expensive health care. I have medical insurance, but my parents do not. Compared to all of the European countries, US health care is not affordable for most people. If something happens to my parents, they have to go back to our native country. In the future, I hope more money will be given to provide medical care for low income families. Moreover, for us as immigrants, we want to be aware of American market requirements. We want to know how to represent ourselves and how to search for a job related to our experience and education. It is very important to have more opportunities to learn more about the rules and the requirements of the American market and the most effective skills I need to succeed. As John Kennedy said long time ago, “Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life”.



Dear President Obama:

Hi, my name is Josephine. I am a 10th grader in Hillsdale High School in California, and I’m 15 years. I was emigrated from China about two years ago, and I really like it here. As the President, I hope that you can make here a better life for people who live in the US. Societies’ safety is really important for people, especially for immigrants, and non-white people. These people haven’t gotten enough protection, from racial discrimination. There are white police officers killing black people for no reasons. On Jan-1st, there was a person who got killed at a BART station. This is not only a terrible thing for black people; it also will influence the people around Oakland and the whole Bay Area. This makes our community not peaceful and harmonious. I hope that people can live together without violence. I think safety in a country is really needed for the people who have been discriminated against.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Golightly Education Center

At Golightly Education Center in Detroit, Mr. Pete tried a new twist:

January 7th, 2009

In thirteen days
the White House
will turn Black.

—Pearl, 2nd Grade

In 13 Days

In 13 days plants and trees will jump and play.
In 13 days the world will throw a party.
In 13 days a person will fly up into space.
In 13 days my teacher will let us have recess all day.
In 13 days my friend Jacolby's braids will start to talk and dance.
In 13 days monkeys will donate bananas to homeless people.
In 13 days a giant rainbow fish will jump up and bring more colors to the world.

—Cierra, 2nd Grade

In 13 Days

In 13 days
dogs and cats will be friends,
the moon and the sun
will be up at the same time.
All around the whole world
the whole entire universe
including the earth
everything and everyone
will be smiling
and everyone and everything
will be nice to each other.
Dead things will come back to life.
Pencils will write by themselves.
And they'll know exactly what
you want them to write
without you having to tell them.

—Arlethia, 2nd Grade

In 13 Days

the Seven Seas
will turn into jello.

In 13 days
a book will turn

into a lifetime
supply of chocolate.

In 13 days
the world will turn into

a better place.

—DeCarlo, 2nd Grade

In 13 Days

trees will tell time
birds will bungey-jump off of houses
cakes will get up and walk
stars will come down to earth.

—Jeremiah, 2nd Grade

In 13 Days

the birds
will sing louder
the flag
will stretch longer
and everyone
in America
will have

—Justin, 2nd Grade

From Mark Twain Elementary, the school that started at all . . .

Four poems from Mark Twain Elementary School in Detroit, including the two poems that inspired this project, courtesy of the incomparable Peter ("Mr. Pete") Markus, writer-in-residence with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project:

Advice to our Next President

Never start drama.
We voted for you because
we believe in you.
Don't forget to not put
pressure on yourself.
Be sure to be ready
to be president. When
you answer the phone
you can say, This is
the Obama residence.
Are you going to be
ready for all of this?
Are you going to try
to be better than
those other cats?

—Dishuna, 4th Grade

Advice to our Next President

Always sniff your shoes when taking them off.
Believe in your pants and shirts.
Keep your socks to your hands.
Remember to eat pizza with a fork.
Don't forget to look both ways when doing the splits.
Keep your shirt in your mouth.
Remember to keep on your head.
Always take a shower in jello.

—Jasmin, 4th Grade

Advice to the Next President

Always help the homeless.
Keep your tongue out of your nose.

Watch out for pointy hats.
Never eat paper.

Remember to share cucumbers.
Give the rich to the poor.

Keep your shoe out of your ear.
Follow your instincts.

Don't help half of the world.
Help all of the world.

Don't bail on us.
Stay strong.

Love the people.
Make this a new world.

—Talandra, 5th Grade

Advice to the Next President

Always say good night to your clothes.
Never cough three times into your taco.

Look both ways before going to the bathroom.
Don't forget to sing a good night song to your carpet.

Believe that a superstar can eat a Whopper in one bite.
Never let a dog eat your face.

Watch out for the cat that eats the dog.
Never let a duck boss you around.

—Deniqua, 5th Grade


Four new schools brings us to 41:

ER Taylor Elementary School (San Francisco, California)
Cleveland Elementary School (Oakland, California)
School of the Arts (San Francisco, California)
Academy of Arts and Sciences (San Francisco, California)

Monday, January 12, 2009

6 more!

6 more schools/organizations have joined the project:

P.S. 153 (Harlem, New York)
Lowell School (Missoula, Montana)
Missoula Writers Collaborative (Missoula, Montana)
Kosciuszko Middle School (Hamtramck, Michigan)
The Valley School (Seattle, Washington)
Living Word Academy (Houston, Texas)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Speaking of Delivery . . .

The Obama-Biden transition team is only accepting mail in #10 envelopes. It is unclear whether this policy will extend to the White House. The current White House statement on packages is: "Items sent to the White House often experience a significant delivery delay and can be irreparably harmed due to the security screening process."

If possible, you may want to consolidate several poems on a page and try to fit it all in a business size envelope or email Or try some of the Dana Gray Elementary students' suggestions below!

You may also want to send copies of your letter and poems to your senators and congressional representatives.

Green Delivery

Students at Dana Gray Elementary School in Fort Bragg, California aren't so sure about snail mailing their poems to the president. The students think that to save paper & trees:

  • poems should be spoken aloud to the president instead of mailed
  • poems should be delivered by bicycle (by limo, by solar-powered bus, by biodiesel RV, by walking, by motorcycle)
  • poems should be delivered to the president by students performing on TV
  • poems could be printed on recycled paper, and rolled into recycled bottles, and delivered as messages in a bottle
  • poems could be delivered by carrier pigeon
  • poems could be delivered WITH art/ pictures, drawings
  • students could phone in and speak their poems

Thank you to California Poets in the Schools poet-teacher Karen Lewis for sharing these wonderful ideas!

31 Schools and Organizations and counting!

To date, teachers and writers from the following schools, school districts and organizations are participating in the Letters to Obama Poetry Project:

Robbinsville Schools (New Jersey)
Hillsdale High School (San Mateo, CA)
Catalina Foothills High School (Arizona)
American School (Guadalajara, Mexico)
West Intermediate Middle School (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan)
Reach Academy (Oakland, California)
Pugh Elementary (Houston, Texas)
P.S. 10 (Brooklyn, New York)
Isaac Dickson Elementary School (Asheville, North Carolina)
Lincoln High School (San Leandro, California)
John Muir Middle School (San Leandro, California)
Garfield Elementary (San Leandro, California)
James Madison Elementary (San Leandro, California)
Washington Elementary (San Leandro, California)
Harrison School (Omaha, Nebraska)
Daniel Webster School (Daly City, California)
Santa Fe Elementary (Oakland, California)
Oak Park High School (Oak Park, Michigan)
Turner Elementary (Houston, Texas)
Oak Forest Elementary (Houston, Texas)
Arena Union Elementary School (California)
Point Arena High School (California)
Pacific Community Charter School (California)
InsideOut Literary Arts Project (Detroit, Michigan)
California Poets in the Schools
Writers in the Schools (Houston, Texas)
Writers in the Schools Seattle
Teachers and Writers (New York City)
Arlee, Montana Poet-in-Residence
Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico City Campus)
Dana Gray Elementary School (Fort Bragg, California)

If your school or organization is participating and you are not on this list, email to let us know!

Teachers and Writers: Join the Letters to Obama Poetry Project

The Letters to Obama Poetry Project was inspired by poems written by students in Detroit, Michigan as part of the InsideOut Literary Arts Project. The idea is simple and fun: Have your students write “Letters to Obama” poems around inauguration time. Then, add a twist or two:

-Send the poems to the White House with a letter thanking President Obama for his support of the arts and arts education

-Hold a student reading or arrange for a display of student poems

-Or come up with other creative ideas to ensure our young people’s messages to this historic president are read and heard!

If you would like to participate, email for a resource kit that contains:

-Writing prompts
-Model poems (below)
-Sample letter to the White House
-Sample press release
-Publication/display ideas

Even if you don’t need a resource kit, please send an email if you plan to participate to help document. Please feel free to spread this post far and wide.

Advice to our Next President

Never start drama.
We voted for you because
we believe in you..
Don't forget to not put
pressure on yourself.
Be sure to be ready
to be president. When
you answer the phone
you can say, This is
the Obama residence.
Are you going to be
ready for all of this?
Are you going to try
to be better than
those other cats?

-- Dishuna, 4th grade, Detroit

Advice to the Next President

Always help the homeless.
Watch out for pointy hats.
Remember to share cucumbers.
Give the rich to the poor.
Keep your shoe out of your ear.
Follow your instincts.
Don't help half of the world.
Help all of the world.
Don't bail on us.
Stay strong.
Love the people.
Make this a new world.

-- Talandra, 5th Grade, Detroit