Each spring, middle schoolers at The College School in Webster Groves spend time in a themed class called "Urban Experience," where they get out and explore the city of St. Louis and issues of importance to citizens and government leaders. Their explorations range from surface parking lots to perceptions of crime and everywhere in between. One component of their urban experience is reflective writing; below, they've shared a sample of the poetry from this spring's class.
Is having the power to see things
As they really are.
Trees aren't just trees.
They are transformed into small plastic sticks,
With perfect twiggy masses to accentuate
The dark mulch circles seen from high above.
Their boughs and limbs stretch to the sky,
Reaching above as if grasping for the clouds themselves.
The rough bark protects against the animosity of urban life,
And their roots anchor them into the ground
To stand adrift of the waves and tides of time.
But from another view, the trees are giants.
From the eye of an ant they may be no different
Than the feet of many a busy passerby.
But it is also a haven, somewhere quiet amidst the city,
And serves as a spectacular barrier.
The trees are the anchors of the city,
Whichever way you look at it.
Their roots hold St. Louis together,
While their branches scrape the sky,
Formally outdistancing even
The tallest of skyscrapers.
Once beautiful but now old
Nuggets of the past
Pieces of long ago
To be restored?
To come back to glory?
Or to be torn down?
Do we leave it?
And let age kill it
Blame it on time?
Just for a building?
Who is one to decide
What to do with history?
I see the city with all its life and love that I live here
because it's such a delight
The wondrous arch and Busch stadium
make my downtown the coolest in the state
I couldn't imagine someone not liking it here
I think it's the best place to be
St. Louis City
A cracked window there
a ruined building here
once the proud home of many
now the abode of few
this community is broken
and no one has spoken
so it will remain
unless you fix what has been
St. Louis Stars
I don't mean the stars that are in movies
Or the ones in the sky
But the ones you see everyday
On the brick buildings in St. Louis.
They support urban living.
Holding metal rods that support the floors.
If it weren't for the stars, my house wouldn't be here.
Without the stars the rods would have slipped
And the floors would have caved in.
These essential inventions that hold up
All of the brick buildings in St. Louis.
St. Louis stars silently support.
Every old building holds a character inside
The outside may deceive you
To turn you away
Don't be misled, by the building,
that wants you to stay
The old buildings are sad and lonely
because of the new and careless
New you say, isn't always better
Funny, shy, talkative, and mute.
Find out for yourself
For every building holds a character inside.
Some buildings are old
Some need to be restored
They all hold some gold
No matter how old
Bricks placed with so much care
We must not take a dare
These buildings so historic
We can't lose its glory
Today is the day to wreck the years
The years that history was made
Now they are all gone with no trace of memories
St. Louis is both old and new
This is both good and bad
Has many memories that have been destroyed
And many lost pieces of history
Every brick, every shingle and every slab of concrete must have endless stories
If you get out and about you too can figure these out