Resilience Café: Stone Creek Carter brings poetry slam to local coffee shop |

Resilience Café: Stone Creek Carter brings poetry slam to local coffee shop

Stone Creek Charter School's Phillip D'Andrea emceed the seventh graders poetry slam Tuesday at Vail Mountain Coffee& Tea new cafe in Minturn. Stone Creek seventh and eighth graders created and presented spoken word performances.
Randy Wyrick| |

MINTURN — Stone Creek Charter School’s poetry slam was packed with both poetry and slam.

A poetry slam is an event at which poets read or perform original work, and it can get entertaining and loud. Poetry slams began in Chicago in 1984 as an effort to move poetry recitals from academia to a popular audience.

Stone Creek seventh- and eighth-graders rolled it back full circle Tuesday morning, Dec. 19, with a poetry slam at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea’s new café in Minturn’s Meadow Mountain Business Park, on the north side of town.

Stand and deliver

Apparently it’s true that humans fear public speaking more than death, which was the only thing that would excuse these kids from their requirement to stand and deliver.

They can accurately blame Sarah Hughes. She teaches a class on project-based learning, or problem-based learning, if you’re a middle school student. All this was her idea.

Each of the middle-schoolers was required to interview a community or family member, do a bunch of research and prepare a spoken-word presentation.

“Fine!” the students said, but apparently didn’t really feel fine about it.

Then she told them they had to actually speak their works, in front of other people.

Hughes’s students cranked up some weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, but to no avail.

Hughes is a former staffer with Sen. Michael Bennet, so she has heard her share of hysteria, which is actually pretty good training for teaching middle school.

They would stand and deliver, Hughes said, and they did.

When they were finally on stage with a mic in their hands, they looked like they were born to do it.

The students designed and built their own stage, made their own spotlights in science class and, in keeping with Tuesday’s venue, the sign behind the stage said “Resilience Café” in letters made from coffee grounds.

Resilience and life

Melissa Cruz reminded the audience to “Forget the mistake. Remember the lesson.”

There was the poem about the surfer whose life was not all sunshine and tasty waves. Some of his wounds were self-inflicted, but he kept trying. Resilience.

And the poem about what Stephen Hawking and the poet’s grandmother have in common. Not much, except that they both had to fight to succeed … which is everything, and the resilience lesson the students were supposed to learn.

While some kids wondered how they would fill their time, Alessandro Cantele wondered what he would leave out. Cantele’s project was local legend Sandy Treat, who first came to the Colorado Rockies during World War II to train at Camp Hale with the 10th Mountain Division.

Cantele managed to distill his three-hour taped interview with Treat to a one-page poem, which contained this laser-focused line honoring Treat as: “A fighter, a friend, an inspiration …”

Phillip D’Andrea’s aunt has one arm and has shown resilience and humor every day of her life.

“It was a tough topic. It took a long time,” D’Andrea said.

It took most of the semester, which was occasionally frustrating; however, art happens at its own pace, Cantele said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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