8th grade poetry slam gives students the chance to speak out

Education

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Growing up, kids are always encouraged to express themselves, this week, eighth-graders were given the chance to do so through the Sioux Falls School District’s 8th annual poetry slam.

While a poetry slam is often seen as a competition against fellow poets, the only things poets were slamming this time around was some knowledge on their peers.

Over 1,000 students from the 5 Sioux Falls middle schools made some noise at the Washington Pavilion for the 8th annual poetry slam.

“I think poetry allows some student that would otherwise, maybe, not have a voice to display their creativity, to voice their passion about a topic and do it in a creative way that doesn’t have a lot of restrictions,” SFSD Middle School Curriculum Director Demi Moon said.

But the only thing louder were the words expressed by fellow classmates.

“My poem is called ‘Breathe’ and it’s about the anxieties about going into high school because I remember when I was super anxious about going into high school before I realized that it’s actually not that bad,” Former Participant and Judge Kalli Barnhart said.

Barnhart represented Patrick Henry last year and was a runner-up.

Now, she’s judging this year’s competition getting the chance to witness her peers’ original poems; covering topics ranging from humorous to more serious ones such as racism or abuse.

“Bruises that come from my body that were created from your fists,” Jocelyn Hernandez recited on stage.

“The only time you should be separated by color is when your doing laundry,” Duo performers Nyapai Chuol and Tahleyciah Sutton said

“We had all of this inside of us, but we just had to write it down and put it on paper. That’s all poetry is: Your thoughts on things and then putting it to rhythm,” Competitor Nyapal Chuol said.

While there might be one winner picked at the end of the day, most feel just getting the chance to speak out to their peers was victory enough.

“I’ve never performed something that was my own work, and performing something that I made, in front of my own peers was really just an accomplishment for me because it’s like, ‘Hey, this is who I am. Now you get to see it.'” Barnhart said.

“Overall it would be… It would represent because our poem is about being black and it would be good to inspire others,” Chuol said.

Truly something for them to write home about.

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