Students Compete in Spoken Word Competition

Self-Expression through Words and Sounds

Written by Nick McClellan, Community Engagement Coordinator, Horizon Science Academy Toledo

Do you have what it takes to stand up in front of hundreds of people and express your inner thoughts and emotions? That’s exactly what our students do every year at the Concept Schools’ Spoken Word Competition. 

Spoken word is a performance art that is word-based. It is an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of wordplay such as intonation and voice inflection. It is a “catchall” term that includes any kind of poetry recited aloud, including poetry readings, poetry slams, jazz poetry, and hip hop, and can include comedy routines and prose monologues.

Although spoken word can include any kind of poetry read aloud, it is different from written poetry in that how it sounds is often one of the main components. Unlike written poetry, it has less to do with physical on the page aesthetics and more to do with phonaesthetics, or the aesthetics of sound.

This year’s Concept Schools’ Spoken Word Theme was “I Quit”. The inspiration for this theme was the spoken word piece from Prince Ea.  This theme was chosen to give students the freedom to speak about any topic that they choose.  While the theme sounds negative, as you watch the Prince Ea’s performance you will see how powerful and positive the message truly is.

On Saturday, March 9, staff and students including Mrs. Clayton, Mrs. Newton, Ms. Simmons, Lizee Decker, Roger Pineda, Courtney Petersberger, Emily Hurst, Kathy Whitley, and Sakiah Porchia attended the event in Indianapolis, Indiana alongside students from the other 29 schools in the Concept Schools network. 

While our students did not place in the competition, it was a valuable and uplifting experience. Lizee Decker, a 10th grader, said, “The environment of the Concept Spoken Word competition is always friendly and supportive. Even if it’s a person’s first time or for a seasoned pro, the climate of the event always makes it easier to get up in front of a large group of people — a genuine non-judgemental space to express yourself.”

Even our teachers found the event to be transformative. Ms. Clayton, the gym teacher, acknowledged poetry “isn’t really [her] thing.” She said, “As a gym teacher, I don’t naturally appreciate poetry as much as an English teacher would. Yet, it was an eye-opening experience. It was more than just rhymes, our students told stories from their hearts. After the competition, I can now say I have a true appreciation for Spoken Word.”

Competitions like Spoken Word give students an opportunity to practice public speaking. Abilities in public speaking will benefit students not only academically, but socially and emotionally as they continue their high school careers and pursue college and careers. 

Ultimately, the students had a great experience. Ms. Simmans, HS English teacher and HSAT Spoken Word organizer, wants to thank everyone involved for making this year a success and for giving our students an opportunity to shine. She said, “I am proud of our students for representing HSAT with such class. Even though we did not place, they did an awesome job.”

For more information about Concept Schools’ annual Spoken Word Competition, click here.