Crossing Delmar: A Proud Moment

Luis Rivero '27

Over the past couple of months, the eighth graders have gone to several different places to visit with students from Loyola. They went on four trips around the St. Louis area to write poetry and to get to know each other better. The students didn’t really know what to expect and seemed a bit nervous. Mr. Mohrmann, the leading force behind Priory’s involvement in the Crossing Delmar program, even said, “I would have been nervous,” but he then went on to say, “Now that I’m older I see it as a great opportunity.”

Their first meeting took place at COCA, where they met up with the students from Loyola for the first time. They were separated into their respective groups and tasked with making Rube Goldburg machines. Many of the students considered it the most engrossing activity, with Joseph Frei calling it “a fun and non-stressful way to meet our groups.” Dantin Naidu noted that the program “inspired creativity,” adding that, “after reading much poetry, we were able to express ourselves using unique words that correspond to our experiences.” Mr. Mitchom categorized it as one of the best sessions, noting, “the engagement was fantastic,” wanting to see more collaboration in the future. Though students from both schools were meeting each other for the first time, they got to know each other well and worked together enthusiastically to create better machines. 

In the next session, students went to Loyola to start writing their poetry. They split back up into their groups and learned more about how to write poetry. Students read a piece by Jericho Brown before each composing a short poem using some of Jericho Brown’s words, like foxglove and delphinium. Many of the poems bore an abstract quality. On the trip, students learned how even the most random creative decisions can help a student express himself  and understand the other students much better.

A month later, the Loyola students came to Priory to expand upon their poems and make better friendships. They learned about how a poet writes and thinks through his work. They watched a video of the poet Rudy Francisco reading a work entitled “My Honest Poem.” Students then took inspiration from Francisco’s poem and read theirs aloud, including their greatest fears and dearest hopes. For the next few weeks they would improve their poems and expand on their ideas. Teachers like Mr. Holmes and Mr. Woodcock played integral roles in students’ success, guiding them along the revision process. Many of the students ended up with great pieces of work that allowed them to feel proud of themselves.

Once students polished their poems, they went to the High Low Literary Arts Cafe in St. Louis to present their poetry collaboratively in the program’s final installment. Members of both schools returned to their small groups to combine a few lines from each member’s individual work into group poems to perform together.  With all of the previous month’s work culminating in the final performance, students felt both nervous and excited. Everyone stepped up onto the stage in their respective groups to present their work, and the result inspired not only the participants, but the organizers of the program itself: everyone had lines that fit a general theme in their groups. Remarkably, everyone fit seemingly random lines into a collaborative poem, demonstrating the program’s power to unite communities. Mr. Mitchom called our final collaboration “a proud moment” for Priory. 

The work that the students at both schools have done at Crossing Delmar to grow personally and foster valuable relationships in the wider St. Louis community serves as an inspiration. The students expanded their knowledge of poetry greatly, all while managing to meet people from different walks of life.