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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teamwork on full display during Westside DC SCORES Poetry Slam!

KIPP WILL won the Golden Mic trophy in its first Poetry Slam!.
As the winners of Wednesday night's Westside DC SCORES Poetry Slam! were announced, emcee Charity Blackwell repeatedly asked for just team captains and coaches of schools to come to the stage and receive their trophies.

Yet team after team brought dozens of kids, all running down the aisles and up onto the stage to receive the hardware from special guests Briana Scurry and Ben Olsen.

At the culminating event of the fall DC SCORES season, it was clearer than ever how strong and together the 20 schools' teams of poet-athletes are. Kids didn't want to leave their peers behind. Whether winning the Spirit Award or first place, they made sure to celebrate together.

And what a celebration the Poetry Slam! was. In front of a standing-room-only audience inside Columbia Heights Education Campus' auditorium, one school after another demonstrated the fruits of 12 weeks of writing labor.

Great lines ranged from issue-driven ("We are not criminals and our schools are secure enough without them." — H.D. Cooke) to commanding ("Quit, we don't quit. Quit. Never heard of it." — Garrison) to funny ("So lock your door; slam, click, ahhhhhhh," repeated Raymond's kids with faces painted to look like zombies).

All lines were accompanied by movements, hand gestures and props. Whether it was a small team on stage or Lincoln Middle School's team of close to 40, every kid knew where to be throughout the night.

It was the result of a 12-week curriculum that began in September with kids learning the basic structure of a poem, was followed by many writing sessions, and concluded with performance-technique lessons and, of course, plenty of practice.


LaSalle Backus EC was one of three schools that performed at the Poetry Slam! for the first time.
The winning schools spanned the spectrum of DC SCORES' 20-year history and 17 years of hosting now DC's largest youth Poetry Slam!.

There was flagship school Marie Reed, decked out in their customary orange soccer uniforms, putting together a strong performance about being yourself and not wavering to win the elementary school Golden Mic trophy.

The Reed kids concluded their performance by taking up every square foot of the stage and holding up about 20 signs representing the countries the students' families are from. "So many cultures in one place can surely brighten your day," everyone said in unison.

And then there was KIPP WILL, a school that had DC SCORES writing for the first time this fall but looked far from nervous under the bright lights. KIPP's performance about love and freedom — highlighted by Jordan S.' poignant poem about learning from his grandmother — won them the middle school Golden Mic trophy.

Marie Reed won the Golden Mic trophy in its 17th Poetry Slam!.

Councilmember David Grosso got the night started!
After emcees Charity and Cortney Hicks kicked off the Slam!, special guest Councilmember David Grosso took the stage and read a poem by Langston Hughes. An innovator like Hughes would've been proud of the creativity and spoken word that captivated the capacity audience for three hours Wednesday night.

As we have documented with our blog series on Brightwood Education Campus, there are many steps taken to get to this point. So it was no surprise that when kids ran up the aisles to receive those gleaming trophies from Scurry (the World Cup-winning and Olympic-gold earning goalkeeper) and Olsen (who was named Major League Soccer's coach of the year Wednesday), emotions were high.

When Jency, a girl from Barnard Elementary School, won the Shine Award for best individual performance, she was overcome by the moment and cried tears of joy as Olsen gave her a big hug. A minute later, there were more tears as Brightwood received the second-place award. 

And then the entire Marie Reed team took the stage, raised up the large and heavy Golden Mic trophy, and capped off a night that demonstrated the power of teamwork — not just on a soccer field, but on stage, too.

Below is the full list of winners from the first night of the 17th Annual DC SCORES Poetry Slam!. 


Elementary Schools 
1st place — Marie Reed Elementary School
2nd place — Brightwood Education Campus
3rd place — Seaton Elementary
School Spirit Award — Truesdell Education Campus
Shine Award — Jency. M, Barnard

Middle Schools 
1st place — KIPP WILL
2nd place — Lincoln Middle School
3rd place — Truesdell Education Campus
Spirit Award — Chavez Prep
Shine Award — Madelin G., Lincoln

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