April 7, 2021

2021 Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate to be Announced April 17 at “ImmortALL” Teen Poetry Project Finale

After months of practice and creative growth, Hampton Roads teens will put their talents on display during the finale of ImmortALL: A Performance Poetry Project, which will stream live from the Schola at Renaissance Academy April 17 at 6 p.m. on the Teens With a Purpose (TWP) YouTube and Facebook accounts!

This program is the result of a partnership between the Virginia Beach History Museums, Princess Anne Country Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni and Friends Association (PACTS/UKHS) and TWP, inviting Hampton Roads teens to learn about local African American history while learning the lively art of performance poetry!

During the April 17 program, TWP will also announce the 2021 Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate. TWP accepted submissions from young poets, rappers, leader, and activists ages 14-19 from across Hampton Roads who were interested in representing the region as the Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate. The Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate is part of the National Youth Poet Laureate Network.

In ImmortALL, performance poetry and modern social change meet oral history and the civil rights movement in this unique program. Virginia Beach teens from age 13-19 connected with alumni from PACTS/UKHS, as well as professional poets from TWP. In monthly sessions from October 2020 through April 2021, teens engaged with PACTS/UKHS alumni from the classes of 1943-1969 , learned more about the Virginia Beach History Museums' Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum, and attended TWP performance poetry workshops. During the final performance, teens will display their re-interpretations of local oral history through the lens of their own experiences with current events.

"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 allowed 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 listened then translated their stories into response poems — making them immortal."

Poetry workshops for ImmortALL aimed to help students explore the stories shared by PACTS/UKHS alumni, as well as their own experiences. Teens worked 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. Videos from the monthly workshops are available for viewing on the Teens With a Purpose YouTube channel.

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 $2,000, 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 citywide 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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