Highlights from Our NorthEast Hub Interfaith Community Evening

On Thursday, February 18, more than 250 community members, students, parents, and school faculty from College Preparatory School of America from Lombard (Muslim), Solomon Schechter Day School from Northbrook (Jewish) and Queen of All Saints from Chicago (Catholic) met at QAS in Chicago to celebrate the culmination of the 2015/16 NorthEast Hub Tri-faith program. As the diverse crowd looked on, the evening began with a welcome from Poetry Pals Director Adam Shames and leaders of the three schools including Pete Tantillo, outgoing QAS principal, whose commitment to the program this year helped make this new partnership possible. NE CrowdNE Eve opening Pete Kids joined Adam and the other educators up front to engage the crowd in the Poetry Pals rap, and then everyone got a chance to watch a special highlight video of the year. NE Eve Ad leads rap with kidsNE watching video The kids went off to rehearse for final performances while the adults and families stayed for a multi-faith sharing and dialogue.  First representatives from each school/religion share about their favorite practice and then adult and parent groups formed to meet each other and share more about faith commonalities and differences. NE Eve kids rehearse with Ethan NE Eve Kids raise hands NE Eve repsNE Eve adult groups1 Finally, it was time for performances--and the kids showed artwork, sang, rapped and performed poems to the delight of the attendees. NE Eve kids art stage  NE Eve kids singing A big thank you from the Poetry Pals staff to all who attended! staff at NE Eve

Highlights from Tri-Faith Programs in Early 2016

Poetry Pals has had three tri-faith programs this new year: That's three schools of three faiths coming together to learn and share at one time.  Our CHICAGO HUB partnerships, which include Sacred Heart Catholic SchoolMCC Full Time Muslim School, and Chicago Jewish Day Schoolvisited a mosque and synagogue, met new friends, wrote and performed poetry, and had lunch together during two different morning programs in January and early February. Highlights below includes learning about different cultural dress at the mosque with MCC Principal Habeeb, girls performing a poem about different holidays, boys working together and practicing beatbox with Yuri... Chub2 tri MCC garb mosqueChub2 tri girls performing  Chub2 tri boys writingChub2 tri beatbox practice Our NorthEast Hub completed its final morning program at Islamic Foundation School, hosted by College Preparatory School of America from Lombard (Muslim), where their students were joined by Solomon Schechter Day School from Northbrook (Jewish) and Queen of All Saints from Chicago (Catholic).  Students had a chance to do final performances that ranged from presenting artwork to performing about identities and religious traditions. Highlights below include CPSA students coming up to read from Koran at the mosque, boys showing off their artwork, students performing on stage in front of their peers, and displaying a large art panel created collaboratively by students. NE tri3 IFS mosque NE tri3 boys art NE tri3 performance time NE tri3 artpiece1

Poetry Pals New Season, New Partnership

NE TF1 gym3NE TF1 basilwalking For the 15-16 school year, Poetry Pals formed a new tri-faith partnership, which we call our NorthEast Hub, with more than 170 mostly-4th grade students coming together from three schools: Queen of All Saints in Chicago (Catholic) College Preparatory School of America inLombard (Muslim) and Solomon Schechter Day School in Northbrook (Jewish).  After solo visits to each school in the fall, "Queens" hosted our largest program ever on November 10th, bringing together students from all three faiths in one action-packed morning.  Students got warmed up through group creative exercises in the gym, then got a chance to learn more about Catholicism and tour Queens' majestic Basilica before breaking out into smaller groups to get to know each other better and write poetry together.NE TF1 4 girlsNE TF1 3boys2 Our CHICAGO HUB partnerships, which include Sacred Heart Catholic SchoolMCC Full Time Muslim School, and Chicago Jewish Day School also kicked off their 4th year of partnership with solo sessions in November. They will be meeting together starting in December! Here are some snapshots from their solo sessions! c-hub solo collage 15

We’re seeking part-time educators!

Are you an educator passionate about fostering more understanding and appreciation among different faiths? Poetry Pals, a Chicago-area interfaith kids program, is looking for part-time educators (whom we call “poet-educators”) to start working with us in early October. Please email info@poetrypals.org with your resume by September 18th. Our Poet-Educators work directly with 3rd-6th graders, schools and congregations as teachers and creativity facilitators during our in-school programs. Seeking candidates with the following: -Strong teaching and language skills--some experience teaching poetry or spoken word is ideal. -An ability to manage and facilitate groups of students of different ages. -A passion for bridge-building among and curiosity about different religions and cultures. -A creative talent to share/teach.  -Flexible schedule with Tuesday and Wednesday morning availability throughout the school year. -Diversity is important to us, and we are looking for experienced educators from various religions, particularly those familiar with Islam and from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. We’re looking for people to become committed members of our team. Currently we expect 10-20 engagements throughout the fall and spring, with other work projects possible. Our typical morning program pays $150 for lead Poet-Educators. Poetry Pals is a Chicago-area non-profit creativity program that brings together young people (8-12 years old) from diverse faith communities. Our programs—including our groundbreaking signature tri-faith program connecting Muslim, Jewish and Catholic schools—have already given more than 2000 elementary school children and their families the opportunity to share their culture and express themselves through poetry, dialogue, rhythm and song.  Our mission is to use creative expression to celebrate universal values and promote understanding, cooperation and peace in a multi-faith society.

Islamic Foundation School hosts Frances Xavier Warde

IFSbeginning      IFS Iris2 On March 19, fifth grade students from Frances Xavier Warde school in downtown Chicago traveled to Islamic Foundation School in western Chicago suburb Villa Park to reconnect with the IFS fifth-graders.  This was the second meeting between the partner schools who are part of the Poetry Pals East-West Hub.  The students got re-acquainted and had a tour of the mosque and discussion to learn about many customs and practices in the Islamic faith.  After the mosque tour, students divided into small groups and enjoyed fun activities while also writing poetry, mostly about religious holidays.  The final performances were lively as the small groups read and acted out their poetry! "One thing is for sure about Poetry Pals, it never fails to get the children to discuss and share their religious traditions in fun and engaging ways," said Lead Poet-Educator Chris Walker. IFS Iris6      IFS Iris4

Diversity Abounds At Interfaith Community Evening 2015

hands up9169 On March 11th, 2015, more than 150 people came together for Poetry Pals' Interfaith Community Evening, featuring poetry and performances by Muslim, Jewish and Catholic 4th grade students and an interfaith community dialogue. Attendess included staff, parents and students from three participating schools MCC Academy, our host in Skokie, Sacred Heart Catholic School and Chicago Jewish Day School, as well as dozens of other community members interested in sharing and celebrating religious diversity. Leaders from each school expressed the importance of children's interfaith experiences and thanked Poetry Pals for the opportunity to learn from each other, and the crowd got a chance to experience some Poetry Pals activities and watch a video of the year's highlights. Discussing Faith_0377 While the students left the gym to rehearse their end-of-the-evening performances, parents, families and community members got a chance to share more about traditions and practices most meaningful to Muslims, Jews, Catholics and others.  They formed small groups to share more about holidays and interfaith issues in their community. Parent cross talk_9236 "This was a great way to conclude our year's program, throughout which students got a chance to host, visit, write poetry with, and learn from others from different religious backgrounds," said Poetry Pals Director Adam Shames. "Tonight was a wonderful opportunity for parents and community members to not only see the kids perform poems they wrote together, but to talk with others of different faiths who have more in common than they may have realized.” Here is a sample poem from the evening, written by students: At the Holy Place At the mosque, I see the Imam reciting the prayer And the women are wearing hijabs to cover their hair At the synagogue I hear the cantor reading from the Torah At the wedding, we dance the hora I smell the candles burning in the chapel While learning about Jesus preaching to his disciples This is what happens at the holy place! Students Sing_9277  Iris and group_9282 Poetry Pals appreciates the ongoing commitment from the three schools involved with this Community Evening and notes the years they have each been involved:  MCC Academy--6 years, Sacred Heart--4 years, Chicago Jewish Day School--3 years.  Thank you and congratulations on another fantastic year of creativity and sharing of faiths! Check out our Facebook page for more photos from the event.

Final Workshops for Chicago and Chicago North Hubs

3 girls mcc 2-25 green    1521254_802544119813871_5822072310411662971_n On February 10th and February 25th the Chicago Hub and Chicago North Hub concluded the workshop portion of the program for the school year.  On February 10th, 4th graders from Chicago Jewish Day School walked a few blocks to visit their Catholic 4th grade neighbors at Sacred Heart Schools Chicago.  On February 25th, 4th graders from Sacred Heart Schools Chicago traveled to see Muslim Community Center Academy 4th graders in Morton Grove.  As usual, creative expression and performance followed an educational experience with the host school's holy place and traditions. The students had gotten to know each well by this point in the program, and many were excited to attend the Interfaith Community Evening on Wednesday, March 11th, at 6:00pm, located at Muslim Community Center Academy, 9301 Gross Point Road, Skokie.  The evening will be an opportunity to celebrate their interfaith creativity and allow the parents to discuss interfaith issues.  All community members are welcome. 10991368_802543843147232_1174041492665677258_n     MCC mosque2

Come Celebrate and Learn at our Interfaith Community Evening, March 11th!

PP eve 15 graphicPoetry Pals invites your family and friends to our Interfaith Community Evening as we celebrate the conclusion of our Chicago Poetry Pals partnership of three faith community schools. Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 6pm-7:30pm Featuring poetry and performances by Muslim, Catholic and Jewish 4th grade students and an interfaith community dialogue. Chicago neighbors coming together for an interfaith evening celebrating our cultures... Free and all are welcome! Participating Schools include: MCC Academy Muslim School (host) Sacred Heart Catholic School Chicago Jewish Day School Event Location: MCC Academy, 9301 Gross Point Road, Skokie, IL 60076. More info: Contact adam@poetrypals.org

New Partnership Between IFS and FXW

IMG_1838            1560683_10205967835259854_3428313213418453657_nOn January 29th, Poetry Pals and its diverse group of educators kicked off a new Poetry Pals partnership between the fifth grade students at Islamic Foundation School and Francis Xavier Warde.  Islamic Foundation School has been involved with Poetry Pals in the past, while this was the first Poetry Pals experience for Francis Xavier Warde.
The initial workshop between the two schools was located at Francis Xavier Warde in downtown Chicago.   Since Francis Xavier Warde is affiliated with and situated next to historic Holy Name Cathedral, students learned about the 135 year old cathedral, along with some of the traditions and customs of Catholicism.  Holy Name Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, one of the largest Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States. It is also the parish church of the Archbishop of Chicago.  After the cathedral tour, students engaged with each other for poetry writing and spoken word performance.  Executive Director Adam Shames said, "It is always fun to see students from a new partnership learn and share with each other.  The poetry performances were quite a creative and expressive testament to the diversity of this country." In March, the Frances Xavier Warde students will travel to the Islamic Foundation School in Lombard to see their mosque and learn about the customs of Islam.  Poetry Pals is excited about this new partnership!                                       IMG_1858         IMG_1866