AUBURN — Edward Little High School English Language Learner students showed off how they’ve mastered English when they read their poetry Monday. Their subjects ranged from going to school in Kenya to soccer to family.

The ELHS poetry slam celebration was held at the Auburn Public Library as a new program teaching language came to an end.

In the program, 12 Edward Little ELL students became the first writing class to participate in the L/A Arts and Global Writes poetry slam competition with students in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Maine.

L/A Arts teaching artist Josh Vink “showed us how to write slam poetry,” ELHS teacher Jill Hyland said. Students brainstormed, wrote, rewrote, practiced and wrote some more. “We pulled off this amazing program,” she said.

In the final competition February, Auburn students competed with students from Yonkers, N.Y.

“By some miracle, we came in with an exact tie,” Hyland said, adding that had never happened before.

After the contest, the young poets made themselves known locally. “It opened a lot of doors,” Hyland said.

They began working with younger students at Park Avenue Elementary School, teaching poetry to fifth- and sixth-graders during multi-cultural day.

They shared their poems at the Telling Room in Portland, a place where writing and imagination is encouraged.

They volunteered at the May 2 “Young Author’s Day” at Park Avenue Elementary School.

And they taught reading to students in prekindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade classes.

“My students have become teaching artists,” Hyland said. The experience has brought them “out of their shell. Some of the kids were super quiet, shy.”

During Monday’s poetry celebration, Ahmed Abo served as master of ceremonies. Jiaqi Shi, who last year came to the United States from China, translated in Chinese, while Yussuf Adow translated in Somali.

Shi’s poem was titled “Sociable.” In it she cautioned that attention to goals needs to be achieved before social time with friends. She asked, who wants to be friends with someone who can’t get a job after high school? “No one can accompany you for life. So adapt and think independently.”

Mohamed Jibril’s wrote about soccer. “Speed, skills, teamwork, education and motivation, never quitting.” In soccer, “mistakes are made,” Jibril said. “Rising above and learning from those mistakes will define who you are.”

Asha Ali’s poem was about going to school in Kenya. She recalled how she got up early, showered and ate breakfast fast. “I don’t want to get late. If I get late the teacher at the door will say to me go back to where I come from” and send her home. If that teacher was nice, “he’ll allow me in and hit me with a stick.”

Anab Noor wrote about peace, saying people are capable of so much love or hurt. “Dropping bombs just to make your enemy surrender. I surrender. I will lay down my life just to give others theirs back,” she said. The challenge is not to give up your life “but giving it to others,” Noor said. “We share the same bright sun, the same round moon. Why can’t we share the same love? Tell me, why not?”

Others who read poems were Abo, Adow, Maryan Abdirahman, Salma Diriye, Fatuma Farah, Nimo Abdirahman and Lajaal Anguba.

After one more group poem, “Cultures Unite,” their teacher fought back tears as she said her students “have blown me away, every day. They’ve worked really hard.”

Being able to write poetry makes a statement about their command of language, she said. “It’s pretty darn good.”

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