SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Eighth-grade students in Sioux Falls got to show off their writing skills Wednesday morning with the annual poetry slam. But for the first time, the event was held at the Sioux Falls Arena.

Six middle schools, 18 poets and a variety of topics — some very personal and difficult to open up about.

“Mine’s about my bodyweight and how I perceive myself,” poet Alisha Ramirez Marino from George McGovern Middle School said.

“Mine’s about if I’m going to be brave or not in the future,” poet Chloe Tounsley from George McGovern Middle School said.

“Mine is personifying my ADHD,” poet Emma Christiensen Crosley from George McGovern Middle School said.

“Mine’s about anxiety,” poet Misha Bauers from Memorial Middle School said.

Connecting different perspectives of life through poetry from their peers.

“The students that perform, they’re performing something pretty near and dear to their heart and so it’s an opportunity for them to express themselves in a matter that we don’t always create a venue for and it really just brings a different piece of culture to our students and allows them just a little bit of peak inside of a world that they might not otherwise be exposed to,” Demi Moon, director of Middle School curriculum, said.

“I think it’s great to have other people experience what you’re going through and just like hear what you have to say about it,” ChristiensenCrosley said.

“For me, it’s just like being confident in it and like overcoming it and maybe that can, like, boost someone else up so like they know they can do great things,” Bauers said.

The top three poets from each middle school performed Wednesday. A panel of judges then determined who was the top poet from each school, and who was the grand champion overall.