Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students from Blendon, Genoa, Heritage and Walnut Springs competed in the first-ever All-District Middle School Poetry Slam, held on March 18 at Westerville North High School. Jenny Tupper, an eighth grade student from Walnut Springs, walked away with top honors.
Through the generosity of many individual donors and the Westerville Education Foundation, Walnut Springs Middle School welcomed, back in December, accomplished poet Phil Kaye. He performed for the entire student body, and later held workshops for aspiring poets. His visit inspired Walnut educators to encourage middle school students from throughout the district to speak their truth through writing. What started as a unit in Bethany Morvay’s class at Walnut Springs turned into the first-ever Westerville City Schools districtwide Middle School Poetry Slam competition.
Ernest Clinkscale, Assistant Principal at Walnut Springs, hosted the district Poetry Slam, which took place on Monday evening, March 18, in the Westerville North High School auditorium. It began with a special performance by Emily Enyame, Westerville Central High School’s “Poetry Out Loud” winner. Then, 28 middle school students performed their own original work in front of the crowd and a panel of judges. Pupils were not given parameters with regard to the subject matter of their poems. They spoke from their hearts, and content was not censored. Prior to the district event, each middle school held their own site-based competition, where winners earned the right to compete at Westerville North. The goal of the Slam was for students to have the opportunity to express themselves through poetry and to create fellowship and collaboration between the middle schools. At the conclusion of the event, Walnut Springs pupil Jenny Tupper won first place in the eighth grade division and first place overall. Audience members were impressed with the depth of the poems that were delivered.
Also getting in on the action by reciting their own poems were brave educators Abbie Boggs (Walnut Springs,) Sarah Kruk (Heritage,) and Principals Dru Tomlin (Heritage) and Becca Yanni (Walnut Springs.)