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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Poet Laureate surprises 8th grade graduating class

Amanda Gorman spoke to La Jolla class online using ZOOM

SAN DIEGO — Finding a guest speaker for school graduation can be challenging, but booking America's first youth poet laureate is nearly impossible. In this Zevely Zone, I went to The Children's School in La Jolla for words of wisdom.  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students used laptops and a ZOOM meeting to view their end of the year surprise.  

"Why we might feel small, separate, and all alone, we've never been more tightly tethered," said Amanda Gorman reciting one of the poems via computer.  

She is the nation's first youth poet laureate and she agreed to speak to the 8th grade graduating class at The Children's School.

Credit: KFMB TV

"I didn't know much about her," said 14-year old Maya Bateman who watched the graduation surprise with her classmates online and with her mother at her side.

"She talked a lot about race which is really relevant right now," said Maya.

Credit: KFMB TV

Amanda Gorman grew up in Los Angeles, as the daughter of an English teacher. The recent Harvard graduate represents a new voice in social change.  

A poem she recited for CBS News about Independence Day included these words, "We understand that a house divided can not stand so let us make a pact to be a country that acts as compassionate as we are courageous."

Credit: KFMB TV

"She is incredible, she is an absolutely amazing person," said John Fowler, the Head of School. 

Fowler found out a month ago that Amanda agreed to speak to his students who have been separated for the past two months. 

"You know it's sort of like everything she does she makes things glow and puts light on them and she took something that has been really hard and turned it into something they are never going to forget now.," said Fowler.  

Credit: KFMB TV

Maya Bateman first came to The Children's School when she was three years old so as you can imagine as a 14-year old graduating as an 8th grader it was an emotional day for her mother Sara. 

"I was trying to hold it together," said Sara. She was moved by Gorman's message about change and hope. 

"We can still feel optimistic and light and we can still low ourselves to feel joy," said Sara.  

Credit: KFMB TV

Maya says next year in high school she hopes to channel Amanda Gorman's confidence. 

"She believes in herself she knows she can do it," said Maya. 

She was referring to Amanda's announcement as a 6th grader that she would run for president. Amanda was asked about that run for the White House during the ZOOM call. 

"Oh, I am so serious... I plan to run for president in 2036," said Amanda.

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She is calling upon America's youth to breakthrough by breaking boundaries. 

"This is not the end of the relationship this is the beginning," said Amanda.  

The Children's School was able to book Amanda because she is friends with the family of a student.