Colonial Middle School (CMS) sixth grade English Language Arts classes recently welcomed Kala Jojo, The Tall Storyteller, to perform tales crafted from African heritage and woven into stories of cultural diversity, healing, conflict resolution, and humor.
"The first story had a very strong message of believing and to remember to always keep someone important in your heart, even if you can not see them visually," said CMS sixth grader Kaylin Trent.
"My favorite story was the one about the boy who stood up and talked for the first time, because it showed me to never give up and to keep trying," added CMS sixth grader Maddie Marcial. "I also liked the one about the kid going back in time."
In addition to storytelling, Kala Jojo played traditional African instruments and told stories through songs that had similar themes and morals.
"It was all about learning lessons through storytelling," said CMS sixth grader Logan Nye. "One lesson I'm taking away from the presentation is to not let others feel that they are better than you."
Many of the themes from Kala Jojo's stories — such as justice, family, equity, perseverance, and unity — were also similar to the themes in the book the students have been reading for class. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor tells the story of the experiences of the Logan family in rural Mississippi and the racial tensions in the early 20th century.
"The students in class and the students on Zoom were all mesmerized," said CMS Teacher Cyndie Slagle. "Kala Jojo's ability to tell stories with powerful messages made an immediate impact with students and teachers."