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HOLMBERG: Richmond middle schooler poems about love during these divisive times

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RICHMOND, Va. -- I don’t know about you, but the last few months have left me wondering if we love each other – or even like each other - in this land.

Maybe it’s just an occupational hazard to be occasionally discouraged while reporting on the news.

But it really seems to me we’ve taken a couple of steps back in the old Rodney King “can’t we all just get along” department.

So I snuck off Thursday evening and went to the “Love Out Loud” event at CenterStage downtown featuring original poetry about love and life by some of city’s most promising middle-schoolers.

Love.

“What’s the real meaning of the word?” asked a very composed Amia Graham in her beautiful poem called “Life.”

I thought about her words as I watched and filmed the event, talking with the students, their mentors, parents and the director of Richmond Higher Achievement.

This is part of an intensive, award-winning, volunteer-driven, 40-year-old tutoring and mentorship program designed to challenge young “under-served” (but not undeserving) students, to lift them, ready them to walk through any door of their choosing while they’re in those impressionable middle-school years.

The evening’s program was part of their literature and poetry studies. These students get hundreds of hours of extra academics after school and during the summer, and it showed.

These are some sharp, composed kids.  I asked some of them what they think we need to do to come together better.

I hope you get a chance to watch and hear them in the video.

That  kind of exceptional community care defines love and inspires the kind of lives that can leap over the divides between us.

Find out more at www.higherachievement.org. Call 804-643-7753 to get involved.

“So think, reflect . . . and really, truly love,” young Amia said as she finished her poem. “And live this life to the fullest.”