Friday, December 3, 2010

11 schools put on a show for the ages on second night of DC SCORES Poetry Slam!

Perhaps inspired by the presence of DC SCORES founder Julie Kennedy or the fiery introductory speech of interim DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, students from 11 schools put on arguably the best Poetry Slam! Thursday night in the event’s 13-year history.

In front of a standing-room-only audience of family members, community members, members of the media and others that kept growing throughout the night, students from each representing school took the stage at Kelly Miller Middle School with an incredible confidence.

Nobody would have been blamed for being nervous under the bright lights, but there were no cracking voices – just loud, impactful deliveries that were easily audible above the buzzing spectators.

It was no surprise that at the forefront of the stellar performances was Arts and Technology Academy, which brought back Marvin Gaye to ask, “What’s going on?” in DC’s public schools. At the end of the night, ATA’s name was called for the third consecutive year as the elementary school champion and the owner of the Golden Mic trophy.

However, a pair of the night’s smoothest performances came from two schools that just joined DC SCORES in September. Showing no first-time butterflies, Johnson Middle School and Noyes Education Campus grasped their moments on stage.

Dontrese F. of Johnson was a star during her first Poetry Slam! performance with “I love to Learn.” As she walked confidently back and forth on stage – microphone in hand -- Dontrese had no problem telling everyone that she loves, “History … Math … Reading … Science … All I love; I ain’t lying.”

And emcees Courtney Hicks of Majic 102.3 FM and local poet KoM weren’t lying when they announced Dontrese as this year’s middle school Shine Award winner for the best individual performance.

Noyes, meanwhile, had a simple message: Bullies aren’t cool and “stop being so selfish!” Those individual poems, performed with grace and audacity, got everyone’s attention. And then the entire team came together for “A Recipe for Peace,” with each poet mixing in an ingredient – “a bit of caring,” here, “a pound of respect” there.

While the new schools impressed, that didn’t lessen the performances of the regulars on Kelly Miller’s stage. The host middle school delivered a powerful poem, “Life is Like a Cycle,” about dealing with the negatives in life. “We live, laugh, learn, love,” the group recited together.

Cesar Chavez’s students took home the first-place trophy for middle schools with an energizing, spirited performance about their school and “DC SCORES Bounce,” a play-by-play song about how they’re successful on the soccer field.

In the always-competitive elementary school division, Howard Road Academy got creative with “Poetry in Motion.” The group’s leader, Sampson J., would introduce a topic such as expressing yourself or playing soccer. Then his teammates would act out the topic. “And that,” Sampson said after each performance, “is poetry…”

“In motion!” responded the audience to a sign Sampson raised above his head.

Sampson’s performance earned him the Shine Award for elementary schools.

Burrville kicked off the evening with an inspiring ode to our home city, the District; and Wheatley used several situations to demonstrate that “arguing leads nowhere."

But the performance of the night, as usual, came from ATA’s poets, who came to the Slam! dressed in slick-looking maroon suits. Entering the stage to “What’s Going on?,” the students questioned schools’ emphasis on standardized testing, reciting, “I have the potential to be the BEST / But all you see are results on a test.”

They didn’t get stuck on the issues, however, ending with their “We are the Future” poem about the Class of 2017. As one girl told the audience, “Someday I’ll be the President / And not just some ordinary D.C. resident.”

And the performances all evening long were far from ordinary. Rather, they portrayed the amazing potential – and already-developed talents – of many graduation classes to come. 

Elementary Schools 
1st Place -- ATA
2nd Place -- HRA
3rd Place (tie) -- Burrville, Beers
Spirit Award -- Aiton
Shine Award -- Sampson J., HRA

Middle Schools
1st Place -- Cesar Chavez
2nd Place -- Johnson
Spirit Award -- Kelly Miller
Shine Award -- Dontrese F., Johnson

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