The DC SCORES Poetry Slam is three evenings of spoken-word performances featuring original works by elementary and middle school poet-athletes from our 70 sites. Since 1998, teams compete for the coveted Golden Mic Trophy and for the title of Slam Champion.
From the beginning of the school year until the Poetry Slam, poet-athletes work on writing original poetry and learning to express their hopes, fears, and pride, while also learning to support each other. The Poetry Slam is the culmination and combination of this self-exploration, self-expression, and teamwork.
Middle School Poetry Slam
The Middle School poet-athletes started the first of three nights at Cardozo Education Campus with a wide variety of topics ranging from gun violence to immigration but all with an underlying tone of hopefulness and confidence in the generations coming up. DC SCORES Director of Creative Arts and Education, Charity Blackwell, hosted the night and introduced Chief Executive Officer, Bethany Henderson, and special guest Ashley Emerson, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of African American Affairs.
My skin is a weapon it is strong and dangerous it confuses ignorant minds
My skin is a weapon of mass destruction it shoots down the lies of racism and burns bridges of segregation
My skin is a weapon it breaks down walls of injustice and hatred
-LaSalle-Backus Education Campus, Middle School
In between the 15 performances of the evening, the audience had the opportunity to witness professional spoken word artists from the region perform, including Carlynn Newhouse; D.C. Youth Poet Laureate, Marjan Naderi; and the second-place winner of the 2019 Individual World Poetry Slam, Mecca Morphosis.
Every Slam concludes in a trophy presentation with special guests to assist with the awards and this year was jam-packed with star power. D.C United Head Coach, Ben Olsen, and goalkeeper, Chris Seitz, alongside Washington Spirit defender, Paige Nielsen, cheered on all of the winning teams as they went on stage for their recognition.
Middle School Poetry Slam Winners
Shine: Savannah J. (KIPP KEY Academy)
Spirit: Ida B. Wells Middle School
3rd Place: LaSalle-Backus Education Campus
2nd Place: Kelly Miller Middle School
1st Place: Jefferson Middle School Academy
Westside Poetry Slam
Theodore Roosevelt High School in Petworth hosted the second night of Poetry Slam for our Westside elementary schools. Charity opened up the night once again and introduced special guests Ward 4 Councilman, Brandon Todd, and ESPN Host and Garrison soccer coach, Sebastian Salazar.
Sebastian has made it a tradition to recognize our Latinx poet-athletes and families every year during the Westside Poetry Slam by speaking in both English and Spanish and getting the crowd excited with a “grito de gol.”
The Westside Poetry Slam is known for its bilingual poems from various teams to celebrate their communities’ diversity and culture. This year, in particular, was full of emotion and heartfelt stories about family and classmates that feel like family. Barnard Elementary School and Tubman Elementary School both dedicated their individual poems to their classmates that had passed away to honor their memory and celebrate the times they spent together.
Who’s gonna look out for me and make sure I don’t go astray?
I know you’re up there watching over us all. Waiting to pick us up when we fall.
Don’t cry they say, but it’s just not fair when we just lost a Barnard Bear.
-Barnard Elementary School
One of the special moments of the elementary school Poetry Slams are the dance competitions before the trophy presentations.
Once the dancing concluded, D.C. United mascot, Talon, and D.C. United defender, Chris Odoi-Atsem assisted in the trophy presentation for the Westside winners of the night.
Westside Poetry Slam Winners
Shine: Madison B. (Seaton Elementary School)
Spirit: LaSalle-Backus Education Campus
3rd Place: Barnard Elementary School
2nd Place: HD Cooke Elementary School
1st Place: Seaton Elementary School
Eastside Poetry Slam
The final night of Poetry Slam hosted the Eastside elementary schools at HD Woodson High School in NE. Poet-athletes showcased their love for their identity, including all the elements that make them who they are like their city and their family.
An African American with many different talents
A child with a lot of dreams about success
An Independent student
A person that helps others
From a place where there is no statehood
From a place where there is plenty of mumbo sauce
From where you can hear that go-go beat
-Burrville Elementary School
Family is not an important thing, it is everything.
Families are like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.
If you need love: I GOTCHU FAM
If you need help: I GOTCHU FAM
If you don’t have it: I GOTCHU FAM
-Imagine Hope Tolson
As the poetry specialist judges submitted their final scores for all the performances of the night, another exciting dance competition took place on stage. Kids were selected to go on stage and showcase their skills in front of the crowd, and even Talon got in the action. Oniel Fisher, D.C. United defender, was the featured guest of the night, but our poet-athletes made him feel special by singing him “Happy Birthday” in anticipation for his special day on November 22.
Eastside Poetry Slam Winners
- Shine: Tyreze S. (Aiton Elementary School)
- Spirit: Washington School for Girls
- 3rd Place: Drew Elementary School
- 2nd Place: Kimball Elementary School
- 1st Place: Burrville Elementary School
Every night of the Poetry Slam provided poet-athletes with a safe space for kids to express their feelings, demonstrate how proud they are of their communities, and be vocal about the change they want to see. All of the performances demonstrated an incomparable amount of self-confidence and bravery that’s worthy of a standing ovation.