East Hampton Middle School educators want their students to believe in themselves.
To that end, Charles Soriano, the school's principal, is asking students to read three poems that address the theme of "believe in yourself," which is to be the focus of the coming school year.
The assigned poems are Antonio Machado's "[Traveler, your footprints]," Lucille Clifton's "blessing the boats," and Robin Coste Lewis's "Art & Craft." All three can be found at poetryfoundation.org, and the assignment is in addition to students' other required summer reading assignments.
"Each grade level — and individual teachers — will take a different approach to covering the ideas in these pieces, which will influence our year as a learning community," Mr. Soriano said in an email.
Teachers will ask their students to answer and discuss questions, he said, including "What does it mean to 'believe' in yourself? How do you enact that? What can get in the way? Are there times that fear can be positive? Negative? How do you overcome your fears?"
In their classes, students will relate the three poems to one another and compare them to other well-known poems that framed previous school years, including Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" and Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken."
Mr. Soriano encourages parents to read the poems along with their children. "Please join us: Read the poems," he said. "Talk at home about them and about what your child is learning at the middle school."