October 12, 2021

2021-22 ‘ImmortALL’ Teen Poetry Project Registration Now Open!

Calling all teens! You, or your school's poetry club, can now register to participate in ImmortALL, a historic teen poetry project.

Teens With a Purpose (TWP), a local youth empowerment organization internationally recognized for their poets and poetry workshops, is partnering with the Virginia Beach History Museums and Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni and Friends Association (PACTS/UKHS) for a second year of the project. The partnership invites Hampton Roads teens to learn about local African American history while discovering the lively art of performance poetry.

In ImmortALL, performance poetry and social change meet oral history, including from those who lived through the civil rights movement. Area teens (from ages 13-19) will connect with alumni from PACTS/UKHS, as well as professional poets from TWP. In regular sessions from October 2021 through April 2022, teens will engage in TWP's signature virtual performance poetry workshops, meet PACTS/UKHS alumni from the classes of 1943-1969 , learn more about the Virginia Beach History Museums' Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum and, conditions permitting, have an opportunity to meet and rehearse at the museum. ImmortALL teens will display their re-interpretations of local oral history, through the lens of their own experiences with current events, in a final public performance in April 2022.

"Teens With a Purpose celebrates the African tradition of storytelling through performance poetry during ImmortALL poetry workshops for teens and The Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Program," said Deirdre Love, executive director of Teens With a Purpose. "The ImmortALL journey allows young people to hear the stories, told by the living legends, those who attended the first high school in Virginia Beach for African Americans. Young people take inspiration from the workshops and interviews to create meaningful response poems - making them immortal."

Teens participating in this unique program will have the opportunity to work towards a goal of immortalizing the ideals and history of the community that built PACTS/UKHS, while sounding the call for further understanding, equity and social change.

Teens, teachers and poetry clubs can register to participate in the program, and view the full workshop schedule, here: DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORMS.

TWP workshops are supported in part by funding from the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission.

Teens With a Purpose was formed in 1996 by Deirdre Love. In 2007, Teens With a Purpose became TWP-The Youth Movement a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization. The organization is celebrating over 21 years of experience in providing peer leadership training and has been recognized both regionally and nationally. Our mission is to create a platform that empowers young people to use their voice, creativity, reflection and action to affect personal growth, transform lives and impact communities. TWP intersects youth development practices; civic engagement, peer leadership and high-quality artistic presentation creating safe inclusive spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present and apply their voices as creators of positive social change. TWP is committed to developing young leaders who positively impact their neighbors, classmates, schools, governments, congregations and one another.

Princess Anne County Training School was the first high school for African Americans in Princess Anne County, now known as Virginia Beach. The school was a result of the African American community in the 1930s working together to raise money to build a school so their children could receive a proper education. The initial money raised was used to purchase four acres of land on Witchduck Road. The school board received the land, and $2000, but it made no attempt to build a school. As a result, in 1934, a temporary school was established on the property of Union Baptist Church. In 1938, a four-classroom high school was finally built and, between 1949 and 1962, several additions were made to the school. In 1962, the Princess Anne County Training School changed its name to Union Kempsville High School. After over 30 years of operation, Union Kempsville High School graduated its last class in 1969 due to the city-wide integration of schools. Today the legacy of the school continues with the establishment of the museum which shares stories of family, community, sacrifice, and the importance of education. The museum is located within Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Renaissance Academy.

The Cultural Affairs Department engages residents and visitors through meaningful arts, heritage, and cultural experiences to connect and strengthen communities. The Department assists and directs the Virginia Beach Arts & Humanities Commission, coordinates the City's Public Art Program, oversees Virginia Beach History Museums, provides contract management for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, serves as the liaison with Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District, and serves as a resource to local arts and humanities organizations.

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