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Bookstore features Aug. 3-inspired poems from YWA students

YWA at Brave Books

(YOUNG WOMEN’S STEAM RESEARCH & PREPARATORY ACADEMY -- Oct. 1, 2019) — A local bookstore is showcasing the poetic and thought-filled words of eight YWA  students who delved deep into the emotional impact of the attack at the El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3. 

The bookstore, Brave Books, organized the Frontera Rising Youth Writing Invitational to allow the sharing of ideas, feelings and talent using social media. It was an open assignment to write an essay that some selected to write as a poem. The students visited the store last week to record themselves reading their work, which the store will be sharing through on their Facebook page in the coming days. 

“They were inviting young people to share their thoughts and experiences and memories of the day,” said Rebecca Guerrero, YWA’s English Language Arts facilitator. “I knew it was something we had to participate in because I was feeling like I needed a way to express how I was feeling about the event. And I knew my students were going to be feeling the same way.” 

The invitation was open to all area youth who wanted to share their thoughts about the Cielo Vista Walmart shooting, the victims and its affect on the community.

“We felt that it was important that our youth take the time to process and respond to the traumatic effects of the violence that occurred by exercising the creative means of writing, reading and sharing their responses with the public,” Jud Burgess said. “They responded with deeply personal and moving reflections that covered a wide range of emotional reactions, all true to themselves.”

The project turned into a good social emotional learning lesson for Guerrero’s students. 

“They should be the voices that we hear when it comes to sort of grappling with this event that happened on Aug. 3,” Guerrero said. “We have very intelligent, opinionated young women and I knew that they were going to need an outlet to start to process what happened in their community so we wrote personal narratives and poems, critiqued them in class and share them.”

Freshman Andrea Tellez wrote Isn’t it Just Amazing? – an uplifting poem that chronicles the events and ends with hope. 

We won’t give up

We’ll make the world a better place!

A place where we are all equal no matter your race

Or gender

So, let me ask you

Isn’t it amazing?

“We were all devastated,” Andrea said. “I wasn’t sure how to express myself at first. I hope this helps people understand how we feel and how deep it goes and it’s ok to show how you feel.”

Her classmate Amaris Epinoza titled her poem A World I Want to See, and it subtly tackles gun control issues and focusing change. She wraps up her poem with an line that reads: “So, it doesn’t take long for me to see that we want to get closer to the world I want to see.” 

“We shouldn’t stray away from these types of topics,” she said. “It’s important we get to vent and use writing and poetry to talk about these situations.” 

The works and the thought each of the writings impressed the bookstore owners.

“They were all emotionally moving and brutally honest,” said Jud Burgess, one of the owners of the store. “We believe that they will aid and inspire El Pasoans who watch them read their essays to continue on their own path to healing.” 

Other students participating in the project were:

  • Kelechi Alozie, eighth grade
  • Brittany Carr, eighth grade
  • D'Anise Chavez, eighth grade
  • Aina Marzia, eighth grade
  • Alexis Navarro, ninth grade
  • Solange Peralta, ninth grade
Story by Reneé de Santos
Photo by Leonel Monroy