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Dobbs Ferry Students Present the Poetry Cafe

The Dobbs Ferry Middle School seventh graders were dressed as waiters, hosts and ushers on Wednesday night, but this was not for a restaurant. Instead, they were dressed this way for the fourth annual Poetry Café, in which they read original pieces of work in front of family and friends at the Dobbs Ferry Middle School.

"Students are capable of much more than we expect them to be," said Dobbs Ferry Middle School Principle Patrick Mussolini. "They are completely running this show and the adults are really just in the background facilitating."

The seventh graders were lined up around the entire cafeteria as they waited to recite their original poems. Middle school teacher Rachael Lief was one of the creators of the event and applauded her students for their work.

"They put their heart and soul into the work they've done," Lief said. "They deserve to be celebrated as poets and risk takers."

There were several students circling the room with platters of food, coffee and water to give the show an authentic café atmosphere. Everyone was even shown to their seats by a student acting as their own personal usher. The middle school cafeteria was transformed into a stage for the young poets for this one afternoon.

"I like that the kids are participating and ushering," said Harriet Kohn, one of the seventh graders' mothers. "They're owning it."

Students sang and performed various songs as the cafeteria gradually reached its capacity. Each table even featured homemade poetry books that were decorated by each student author.

"They've been working on these [books] day and night for three weeks," said Audrey Pass, one of the Dobbs Ferry parents in the audience.

The event was spawned from the English Language Arts curriculum as the Dobbs Ferry seventh graders just recently finished a poetry segment in class.

"I think something else that will really surprise you is the depth at which they can express their feelings," Mussolini said.

This year held special importance in particular because it was held in honor of Debbie Kaplan and Marj Holderman, who will retire at the end of the school year. The poems performed were based on raising awareness and topics ranged from global concerns to local issues in the community.

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