Shazaam Poetry Slam at Holy Trinity Catholic School

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On October 4th 2018, Ms. Fortades’ class from Holy Trinity Catholic School in Etobicoke, hosted the most unique and poetry slam I’ve ever been in. Real talk. These students brought in homemade treats, there were two kinds of pie, and there was a projector with a hip art café decal on the smart board. As we were sipping our classroom water and munching on Timbits, these young poets settled in for an incredible slam.

 

One of the bravest, smartest, fun-loving group you’ll every meet, Ms. Fortades’ grade eight class wrote remarkable poems that reflected of themselves and their experiences. We had some stand-out characters and a class slogan “tears are strength” and we needed that reminder. Our emotions were high.

 

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With my partner in crime (for the third time now) Ebti Nabag leading photography facilitator, I held it down the spoken word part of the lessons. Students dazzled us poems about pizza, secret admirers, war, anxiety and lost loved ones, exploring 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 in visual and performance arts. Lakeshore Arts really hosts incredible workshops for the community.

 

 These tender youth made me a thank you card for our last day of class. My heart!

These tender youth made me a thank you card for our last day of class. My heart!

It was an honour to be the host and our judges were blown away by the sheer talent. Some of the writing from our winners include:

 

“How do the waves of noises

of sounds

of words

come together to make something inexplainable,

something of beauty

something of grace that unites

race by race, colour by colour, shade by shade?”

 

— Ella

 


“Yeah some people don’t want us to be free

but honestly

that doesn’t matter to me.

We’ve come too far to be

pushed back to the bottom again

just because they don’t like our culture

they don’t like our style

they don’t like us.”

 

— Natasha


 

“I can’t look at myself straight in the mirror

without thinking I’m strange

looking in the mirror”

 

— Jessica

 


 “she is a 13 year old girl

who criticizes herself any chance she gets

she is a 13 year old girl who puts an act

on for her peers but when she gets home

she breaks down.”

 

— Jenna

 

Congratulations to our slam winners: Ella, Jenna, Natasha and Jessica.

 Left to right: Jessica, Ella, Jenna, Natasha and Frenchie. The ladies brought home the trophy!

Left to right: Jessica, Ella, Jenna, Natasha and Frenchie. The ladies brought home the trophy!

Special mention to: Tyler, Lebron and Gabriel

 Left to Right: Frenchie, Lebron, Gabriel and Tyler. Dream team right here!

Left to Right: Frenchie, Lebron, Gabriel and Tyler. Dream team right here!

 At the end of the day, these kids weren’t just students in a classroom, fulfilling what is required for a grade, they were a mini family (some with very elaborate backstories). Honestly, in my many years of facilitating, I rarely see a group of young people who support one another, encourage one another, and truly look out for each other in a deep, sincere and authentic way. These youth are the future, yo!

Big thanks to Alessandra, Thom Amanda and the whole Lakeshore Arts crew. So much love to the one and only Ebti, merci beaucoup to Arren for supporting us and taking these incredible photos and thanks to all the judges, gratitudes and admiration to the brilliant and inspiring teacher extraordinary Mr. Fortades. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Last but not least, bravo to all the grade eight students in Ms. Fortades’ class. May your final year in elementary school shine bright and may you take over high school with your best foot forward. Frenchie believes in you.


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