The Power of Words: Author Kwame Alexander Visits RPCS
“The pages of a book are like a treasure,” poet, educator and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander told a group of Middle School students at Roland Park Country School on October 3. “They help tell us who we are.” Kwame was the featured speaker at this year’s Anne Healy Lecture and led animated, inspiring and interactive discussions with groups of students during the school day and faculty, parents and members of the larger school community in the evening.
“Words are powerful,” Kwame told both his student and community audiences. “Words can change lives because words changed mine.” This is something he understood from as early as preschool. His books include Swing, The Write Thing, Rebound, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal, The Undefeated, How to Read a Book, and his Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. Kwame currently serves as the inaugural Innovator-in-Residence at the American School in London, and the founding editor of Versify, a publishing company he founded that aims to “change the world one word at a time.”
Throughout his talks, Kwame demonstrated the power and delight of words. He orchestrated a fun group reading of his book Surf’s Up with the third, fourth and fifth graders, led contests among the Middle School students and teachers where they had to guess missing words from his books, and even performed a rap duet with Lower School librarian, Beverly Edwards! In the evening presentations, he answered seven audience questions, ranging from what is his biggest pet peeve (surrounding ourselves with ‘no’ people) to the most difficult thing he’s ever written (The Undefeated).
In the Middle School discussion, RPCS students were joined by 48 students from Henderson-Hopkins, a Baltimore City charter school. Afterwards, the eighth graders from both schools joined together in a lively discussion about The Crossover.
In each of his lectures, Kwame also spoke about being a ‘yes’ person and the importance of not giving up, even when facing rejection. “I believe that ‘no’s' are a part of life,” said Kwame. “But I think the ‘yes’s’ are waiting for us. We have to learn to say yes to ourselves and what’s possible in our own lives.”
About the Anne Healy Lecture
The annual Anne Healy Lecture is generously funded by the Anne Healy endowment, which was created at Roland Park Country School to honor Miss Healy, who served as the Head of School for 25 years, from 1950 to 1975. A special day is set aside each year and a distinguished person in the field of letters is invited to meet and work with groups of students during the school day and to present an evening program for students, faculty and members of the larger school community.