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Ripton, VT: North Branch School

Ripton, VT: North Branch School
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“It makes me want to go write a poem too,” Nick added, smiling.

“We’re waiting, Nick, we’re waiting,” I said.

“I have always thought of Steve as a grungy teen punk skateboarder,” said Doug. “But obviously he has these other aspects to his personality. It makes me think that Steve is more of a student than he has shown so far. Sometimes it seems that he doesn’t really care about school, or perhaps it’s hard for him. But a poem. I’m impressed.”

“I like what it was about, how he talked about–” Janine began, halting, not quite sure of what she knew or felt. “That part about being willing to never break a promise.”

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I said.

The praise and affirmation were real, expressing their growing awareness not of ideas or facts, but of each other. That poem was the beginning of a fountain of poems, from Steve, and from all of them. That is how we got our writing community together, and how the lives of these kids, once separate and distant, began to be stitched together. That was how we began to un-govern our tongues.

Adapted from A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont by Tal Birdsey. Copyright (c) 2009 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC

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