On May 31st, the students from St. Teresa Catholic School threw down a most epic in-class poetry slam. These grade eights, after six days of brainstorming, writing, and practising created a repertoire of poetry. Topics ranging from sports, moving away, their favourite pet rock, hunting, overcoming fears and going to high school. It’s always a pleasure running these types of workshops and with my fabulous co-facilitator-in-crime, Ebti Nabag we were able to explore both written and visual arts so students could express their fullest selves.
The Shazaam! program is a unique spoken word and photography initiative within schools through Lakeshore Arts which allows professional arts to work with students and teachers to examine identity through in visual and performance arts. Lakeshore Arts really hosts incredible workshops for the community.
Emotions were high on that final day of the program: some students were beyond enthusiastic, and ready to show off their stuff. Others, a bit more intimidated by the stage were nervous but still confident and determined to share their story. Once all the pencils were used up, all the words written, all the prep and practice was complete, they were ready. The slam was on!
It was an honour to be the host and our judges were blown away by the talent, performance and the content of the poems. Some of the highlights from our winners include:
“the insecurities we have
do not define us
the colour of our skin
should not divide us.”
“once you find who you are
don’t think you’re forsaken
be yourself in this world
because everyone is taken.”
Congratulations to our slam winners: Elijah, Dominika, Natalie and Mackenzie.
Special mention to: Szymon, Raquel, Sarah, and Zach.
It was a very special day. After the slam, the students were buzzing and celebrating, and most importantly, supporting each other throughout the whole process. Sometimes I can be sceptical about the whole “art as competition” thing, but these young artists were like a small community, uplifting one another instead of fighting to be number one. That was the real highlight for me, to see how unique and special each poem and each person was and how all the students made space for their peers to shine.
Much respect to the Shazaam crew, Thom & Alessandra for their incredible support and Kate for the photography. Big up Ms. Fortades for allowing us the opportunity to work with her students AND for her amazing rubric rap (so fly!).
If you are a teacher or principal interested in have a Whitney French Writes workshop in your school, book a workshop HERE. Or, if you are interested in the Shazaam program, check them out at www.lakeshorearts.ca