“It was a piece of cake,” Arts and Technology Academy’s Dallas O. said afterward.
Dallas, of course, was talking about her performance of “I have the Potential” at the second annual Inspired Art Gala. While a lot of practice and preparation went into Wednesday’s evening’s DC SCORES fundraiser – and into the eight performances put on by DC SCORES’ poet-athletes – they sure made smooth deliveries when the stage was set.
The student performances were just one highlight of a night that celebrated our innovative program combining soccer, poetry and service-learning and raised over $115,000 to directly serve over 800 students in the District.
Throughout the large room in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, DC SCORES was represented. On either side of the bar, tables displayed 45 pieces of professional artwork inspired by the student poems sitting beside them. More than 200 guests browsed the artwork and original poetry, placing bids on their favorites.
Food stations let guests know that we’re a soccer program, too, with “turf” tables displaying an array of delicious heavy hors d'oeuvres strategically placed next to soccer balls. At the back end of the centralized bar, orange Gatorade coolers contained different juices.
The setup helped guests understand what DC SCORES is all about.
“First of all, it sounds like an odd combination — poetry, sports and community service — but wait a minute,” said Sallie Wolf, a participating artist who visited from Oak Park, Ill. to attend a DC SCORES event for the first time. “What’s life made up of, you know?
“The art, physical activity and health, and helping others. I mean, that’s what really is a rich life, a good life.”
Wolf wasn’t the only guest who came away impressed with the program, especially the students who performed.
Following the silent auction, guests funneled into the auditorium to listen to a group performance by MacFarland Middle School and seven individual performances. After Dallas concluded the performance by reciting the same poem she performed at the DC SCORES Poetry Slam! in December, on NBC-4 later that month and at the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM! in April, audience members gave all the students a standing ovation.
“They were well-prepared, they moved the audience, even some of the people were moved to tears by a couple of the poems,” said DC SCORES Board of Directors member Sterling Ashby, the Chair of the Gala’s Host Committee.
“The event was fantastic. It was smooth-running. The art and artistic talent were great, tremendous.”
The students weren’t the only inspiring, either. In between their performances, Grammy-nominated Carolyn Malachi sang two beautiful songs, and the evening’s Inspiration Award was given to Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH) and Beverly Perry of Pepco Holdings, Inc.
Fudge pushed hard to enact National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September 2010. Perry has been committed to public service in the District for several years, working with many organizations to assist families and youth.
“Our honorees were a very inspiring example to the students and all of us,” said DC SCORES Board Chair Jay Grauberger. “It was a great evening.”
The Inspiration Award was handed out by special guest Charlie Davies of D.C. United, who stuck around afterward as the students signed guests’ programs and then took several photos with them.
“That was my favorite part (of the event),” said MacFarland’s Keon K.
All of the students were impressed by how many people came to the Gala to see them and support their program.
“It was amazing that people came all the way out here to see us perform,” Marie Reed Learning Center’s Rudeimi B. said.
Added Akilae S. of Tubman Elementary School: “It was awesome. I can’t put it into words, it was so awesome.”
And while her performance was a piece of cake, afterward Dallas reflected on an event that wasn’t just about the poetry but encapsulated all of the aspects and values of the DC SCORES program.
“I think it gives us a way to express ourselves in different ways and through poetry, and we get to look at other people and what they did and achieved.”