For many, writing and performing poetry can be a form of expression and release. That may not be how most middle school students feel while in a poetry unit at school. After a stirring performance by Movement 515, however, many Waukee eighth graders felt very differently about the language arts class unit.

Des Moines Schools’ teachers Kristopher Rollins and Emily Lang initiated a creative writing community in their schools three years ago. The group, Movement 515, is a place where students and teachers alike of Des Moines Schools can come together to share and practice the skills of writing and performing. The group, which started as the idea of one student, has since grown to a weekly after school workshop of about 40-60 participants.

This type of group allows students to express themselves while encouraging them to use their voice, and that’s what Waukee eighth graders were given the opportunity to do after the performance. The instructors read a poem and then gave the students 12 minutes to write a poem of their own. Students were then allowed to share if they felt compelled to do so. While no group similar to Movement 515 is currently offered at Waukee, many students have, since the performance, expressed an interest in creating such a group in the near future.