Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Out of the mouths of babes: Patwin students perform in Oral Language Fair

Emily Sutcliffe, Julie Knoepfler and Leah Rosenheim peform at Patwin’s Oral Language Fair. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photos

From page A9 | February 19, 2013 |

Students at Patwin Elementary School shared their dreams for the world during the school’s first Oral Language Fair this month.

They spoke of a world without racism, violence, loneliness and pollution; they called on their peers and the adults in their lives to do more to make the world a better place; and they did it bravely on stage, in front of an audience of family members, teachers and classmates, as well as a panel of judges.

It was all part of the tradition that follows Nikki Smith wherever she goes.

The new principal at Patwin has been organizing Oral Language Fairs for 20 years now, beginning with her teaching days in Oakland. She later brought the fairs to Davis, first to Valley Oak Elementary School when she taught there, and later to Korematsu Elementary School. Now she’s brought the fair to Patwin, and, judging by the enthusiasm and talent on display there last week, it’s likely to return.

The theme of this year’s Oral Language Fair was “I Dream a World.”

Performing solo, in small groups or as part of a whole class, students recited both original work and iconic pieces.

Sue Britz’s fifth-grade class recited the preamble to the Constitution, while a group of seven girls performed “What A Wonderful World,” in both spoken word and sign language.

Fourth-grader Kavi McKinney recited excerpts from an essay on human rights in Tibet. His impassioned performance about Chinese efforts to assimilate Tibetans into China included the plea, “peace starts within each one of us,” and earned a resounding ovation.

Meanwhile, sixth-grader Eric Chung left many in attendance choked up with his recitation of an original piece, “Who Made the Evil?”

Inspired by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Eric said, “My heart was crying for the little ones.

“Who is the evil? Was the 20-year-old shooter evil? Who sent him to us? If no one is born evil, then who created the evil?”

He spoke of being just a boy, unable to control the guns, wondering if the grown-ups would do anything about it.

“We children should start first,” he said. “Before it’s too late.”

Eric added that, “whenever this kind of tragedy happens, I realize … they never had any friends, they were always alone.”

Eric said he, too, was alone once. As a 7-year-old new to the United States, he didn’t speak the language, looked different and was ignored. He urged everyone to embrace people like that.

“Give your small hand to someone who is alone,” he said.

Other Patwin students dreamed of a world “where no one fights … where no one would pollute … where everyone has a house … where no one would say mean things … where class sizes are smaller.”

They spoke of racism, littering, of living in a world “where some would rather die than be who they are.”

The varied and powerful performances made the judges’ jobs difficult.

School board member Susan Lovenburg, Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant, Kate Snow from the district’s school climate office, and Smith’s father, Michael Shannon, were tasked with deciding which performers would move on to the showcase the following week. Kavi, Eric and many others moved on.

For Smith’s father, judging was a return to a gig he once regularly had — he’d been a judge since Smith started organizing Oral Language Fairs back in 1993. But once Smith’s own children — and Shannon’s grandchildren — started participating at Valley Oak and later Korematsu, he was disqualified.

Now that Smith is at Patwin — and her children aren’t — dad got his job back, and clearly could not have been happier to be there.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy



Anne Ternus-Bellamy



New chemistry building in the works at UCD

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

County supervisors receive positive report on Laura’s Law

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Fix it yourself, with a little help, at Bike Forth

By Bob Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

California regulators approve unprecedented water cutbacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Bob Dunning: Squeezed by the math on conservation

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Big Day of Giving surpasses $5 million goal

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Heidrick Ag History Center rebranded as California Agriculture Museum

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

May 11 talk focuses on clean water

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

‘From Age-ing to Sage-ing’ guides library group

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Crossing lines, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

’12 Angry Men’ will screen Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Kids get a peek at the great outdoors

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

BeerFest expands to include cider

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Pet Food Express organizes Save a Kitten fundraiser

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Origami lovers will meet at library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

Breast cancer treatment update offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

Earth-centered author comes to Avid Reader

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

MIND Institute lecture will focus on prenatal exposure to insecticide

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Round up at the registers for Davis schools

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

Retirees to hear about Woodland’s shade tree campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

Health care documentary will screen at meeting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Pence Gallery: We’re overflowing with gratitude

By Natalie Nelson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Who is Ralph Hexter? Chancellor’s No. 2 fills us in

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A10 | Gallery



New book flows with good news about water

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Injection wells endanger our aquifers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

Living with this for 30 years

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



Aggies go flat in 7-1 Sacramento State win at Raley

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils crush Edison to earn McClatchy rematch

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Blue Devils grind out a victory over Oak Ridge

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis boys dominate first playoff match

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Alliance/Legacy roundup: Local squads fare well over the weekend

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

AYSO roundup: Davis teams capture Fog Classic crowns

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Pro baseball roundup: Giants blank Pads, win fifth straight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10





High school artists exhibited at Pence Gallery

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

See Christian Quintin’s paintings at Hattie Weber Museum

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble returns

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Sac Ballet presents Modern Masters on May 8-9

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

Davis Youth Flute Choir tunes up for China tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8







Comics: Wednesday, May 6, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B5