Despite recent incidents of violent outbreaks, students working with the Lincoln Hills Poetry Project don’t falter from their mission.
Lincoln Hills Poetry Workshop is an organization where club members go to the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls in Irma, Wisconsin, to do poetry workshops with the students there.
It serves as a positive outlet for the students at LHS and CLS and gives them a voice in a world where they aren’t often heard.
For members of the group, it provides experience working with students from diverse backgrounds and being role models.
Leah Trempe, president of the workshop and English education major, said, “We also have the opportunity to grow as writers ourselves.”
According to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections website, they operate Lincoln Hills School and Copper Lake School in Irma, Wisconsin, which is the state’s type one secure juvenile correctional facility for male and female youth in DOC custody.
Recently, an inmate seized a can of pepper spray and used it on a staff member.
According to an article published in late October in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a staff member resigned because she was in fear for her life on a daily basis.
“Our primary contact was one of the teachers assaulted at the facility. This happened very close to what would have been our first visit this semester and without enough planning time we had to cancel our trip,” Trempe said.
“Other than that, there has been no repercussions on our mission.”
Trempe said the project works with primarily the top tier of students at LHS. This means that the students are not in restrictive housing and they have privileges they have earned through good behavior.
The students from the project visit on Sundays as to not interfere with the student’s class schedule. All the students they work with have volunteered to come to the session and want to be there.
Trempe said she leads the classrooms each time she goes, and her favorite part is when students there see the potential that they have.
“It is even better when we hand them their published work at the end of the semester. Their faces light up, and you just know you helped that kid,” Trempe said.
This semester, the Lincoln Hills Poetry Workshop project has helped over 65 students at the facility.
Lincoln Hills Poetry Workshop is open to all students at UWSP. The project is recruiting for next semester so anyone that is interested can check them out at the involvement fair on January 31.