LAWRENCE – More than a century after Robert Frost graduated from Lawrence High, his legacy will be remembered at his alma mater today.
The Robert Frost Foundation which has held an annual festival in honor of the four-time Pulitzer prize winning poet, has combined forces with Lawrence High for a Lawrence Poetry Day.
The festival’s highlight will be a portrayal of Robert Frost by Gordon Clapp, who plays Detective Greg Medavoy on NYPD Blue. It will be held at 7 p.m. in the school’s lecture hall.
Born in San Francisco, Frost moved to Lawrence at age 12. He graduated from Lawrence High in 1892 and was co-valedictorian with his future wife, Elinor White. Frost also wrote the school song.
Frost was known as the unofficial poet laureate of the United States. He won four Pulitzer Prizes and was asked by President John F. Kennedy to write and recite a poem at his inauguration.
Mark Schorr, executive director of the Robert Frost Foundation said this year’s festival was two years in the planning.
“We’re not disrupting the school day, we’re enriching it,” Schorr said. “As a teacher he (Frost), would be delighted that an organization was helping teachers,” he said.
Richard Gorham, English content coach at Lawrence High, said students from all six high schools on the Lawrence High campus will participate.
“We want to show them that writing can be just as exciting as basketball,” Gorham said. “We hope it inspires them.”
During the day, students will participate in 10 workshops focusing on literacy including creative writing, poetry, spoken word and memoirs. The school is partnering with Andover Breadloaf and Mass LEAP.
“We want to show them that writing can be just as exciting as basketball; it’s inspiring,” he said.
“It’s important for all students to concentrate on writing. They are searching for their own voice and have things to say, but don’t have an avenue to say it,” Gorham said.
He said it’s important to celebrate literacy specially for the English language learners whom he finds very creative.
“There’s something unique and special about the city, maybe it has to do with the immigrant experience, the struggles which becomes a source for their writing.”
One of them is Edna Colon, who moved to Lawrence three years ago from Colombia. She is one of four students who wrote a five-line poem which they will recite on stage. Colon’s poem reads, “I’m a good friend that you can find but in my inside I’m insecure to fly. I love to help people having fears to destroy waiting to fly, but it takes time.”
“I feel really good about being chosen,” said Colon, a senior in the Performing and Fine Arts High School. “I didn’t expect to win because I just saw it as an assignment.”
In addition to writing and poetry, the festival will bring together music and dancing to celebrate Frost.
Nancy McGee who leads the school’s Girls Ensemble have set three works to music: Emily Dickinson’s “Heart, We Will Forget Him,” the Irish Blessing and an African song.
Dance teacher Maria Morgan choreographed dances for Frost’s poems, “Acquainted with the Night” and “Two Birches.” Each piece has soft classical music in the background as Gorham reads the poems and the students dance.”
If you go:
What: One man show by Gordon
Clapp as Robert Frost.
When: Tonight at 7 p.m.
Where: Lawrence High School Lecture Hall, 71 N. Parish Road.
Cost: $10 to benefit the Robert Frost Foundation programs for its
teacher-initiated activities in the Lawrence Schools.