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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Power of Poetry at Brightwood, Part IX: The Poetry Slam!

This fall, DC SCORES Digital Media Intern Paris Volpe is attending the after-school poetry sessions at Brightwood Education Campus (Elementary School) to observe how the Panthers discover "The Power of Poetry." Each week, Paris is writing about the curriculum and lesson plans of the program. Follow as she documents the progression of the students’ self-expression and writing techniques. You can also follow Paris' experiences on Twitter by following @DCSCORESinterns and view photos on Flickr.


Written by Paris Volpe
Digital Media Intern

“Oh my gosh, this is happening,” shrieks Makensie T., age 8, as the Panthers are ushered back stage. She latches on to Betelihem G. age, 10, who is just as nervous, but consoles Mackenzie. “It’s going to be fine,” Betelihem says and wipes away Makensie’s tears. Fatiya H., age 10, is taking deep breaths. Ashley A., age 8, is jumping up and down and Troy R., age 10, is attempting to organize everyone else in line.

It’s time.

The Panthers have been preparing for the Poetry Slam! for 12 weeks. The culmination of their hard work approaches as they take the stage at Columbia Heights Education Campus. I wave them on and receive a bright smile from Alexis T., age 8, and a big thumbs up. They’re ready.

The Panthers perform their “I am, I wish poem” first. The poem not only features verses of similes and metaphors but also verses that show the energy and ingenuity of these students.

Next Betelihem performs her individual poem entitled “The Big B.” Earlier when Betelihem practiced one last time, she accidentally skipped a line. “I can’t do this in front of everyone,” she told Coach Nelson.

Nelson responded, “Oh yes you can. No one even noticed you missed a line! Your whole class has your back. You are going to own that stage!“

And she does. She rocks the stage like she was born to perform.

Finally, the Panthers perform their BRIGHTWOOD PANTHERS poem, spelling out the title, followed by adjectives describing their team. Each word is followed with appropriate motions. You wouldn’t have known these kids had the jitters minutes before. The words are polished and their synergy is incredible.

“We are DC SCORES, but we are also the Brightwood Panthers,” they exclaim. The poem couldn’t have ended with a more inspiring verse.

“Did you see us!?” asks Anthony H., age 10. Of course we did, along with a capacity audience of more than 500 people. He and the other Panthers are beaming after their performance. I congratulate the kids and ask Makensie how she kept calm.

“I just kept looking straight ahead and thought of my mom,” she said, smiling.

The coaches and the students have been working hard since day one. They transformed not only as students but also as a DC SCORES team. They turned written poems into spoken word. They exchanged nervous chills for strong voices.

They’ve transformed from elementary school Brightwood Panthers into second-place winners of the Poetry Slam!.

And that’s the Power of Poetry.


Related posts
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII

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