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Meet the COVIDs: Processing the Pandemic through Poetry
Meet the Covids: Processing the Pandemic through Poetry
Posted on 01/21/2021
A grandmother's poem and book helps Woodfin students process the pandemic.Featured photo: 1) Author Carolanne Donaldson stands with Woodfin Elementary Principal April Wright and both local and national members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) organization. Left to right: Karen Flynn (chapter Treasurer), Trula Boyd (chapter Regent), April Wright (Woodfin Elementary Principal), Carolanne Donaldson (Author), Emily McKinney (chapter member and Project Chair), Elizabeth Graham (DAR Vice President General, Past NC State Regent), and Denise Peters (chapter Registrar). 2) An illustration from "Meet the COVIDs" includes a child holding the sign, "Happy birthday to me from me." Used with author permission.

By: Benjamin Rickert
BCS Communications Dept.

Woodfin Elementary students have a new way to discuss and process the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a local grandmother’s poem and the Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

When Asheville grandmother and hairstylist Carolanne Donaldson first wrote and illustrated "Meet the Covids" last year, she did so for an audience of three. She typed and printed the words at home and used colored pencils to add artwork to each page before sending it to her young grandchildren, James, Owen, and Forrest. The poem was a way for Donaldson to connect with them when visits weren’t possible due to her quarantine. It also gave the children some context for all of the changes occurring in the world around them, along with hope for the future.

“I sat down and thought, 'How am I going to write about this without making it horrifying?’ Everyone’s life had changed,” she said. “I had no intention of writing a book.”

An illustration from "Meet the COVIDs" includes a child holding the sign, "Happy birthday to me from me." Used with permission.Donaldson decided that colorful hand-drawn illustrations of family members and pets accompanied by rhyming verse would take the edge off of the conversation. When she completed the project, friends and family thought it could meet a greater need and encouraged her to make it available for more children through Amazon. The book found its way to Woodfin when Buncombe DAR Registrar Denise Peters picked up the book while getting her hair done at the salon where Donaldson worked.

“I immediately thought of all my nieces and nephews,” said Peters. “We needed to get this out.”

Peters quickly gave a copy of "Meet of Covids" to Woodfin Elementary teacher and DAR member Emily McKinney, who read the book with her students. The book was a springboard for McKinney’s students to share their own experiences, disappointments, and hopes, as they related to the pandemic. After this success, the local DAR worked with Woodfin administrators to purchase copies for all Woodfin classrooms. The chapter also started a Meet the Covids School Project to help other DAR chapters support schools through the book.

“I thought that it would be great to have this book at our school as a social-emotional tool for students given this unprecedented time,” McKinney said. “It discusses all of the closures and cancellations, and how a lot of us have been disappointed during this season. The story also expresses the importance of safety measures, how the virus travels, and what scientists are doing to help and try to find a cure.”

Donaldson hopes her book will remind young readers to be hopeful and look for joy in every situation.

“They’ll hopefully realize in life that there’s going to be adversity and bad situations,” she said, “but that won’t control who you are. You can control your responses to that situation.”

One of the poem's closing stanzas reads:
"Stay safe, sweet ones, and wash your hands.
Just stay home and you'll be fine.
We'll have a massive party soon,
Just at a different time."

“The unifying theme is that this is a very strange situation but we are all in this together,” McKinney added.

Learn more about the Daughter's of the American Revolution organization, the related Children of the American Revolution website, and their supported schools.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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