“My words can be imitated,
But they are abominated by the hatred.

My words collide,
To make an electric connection with even the strangest mind.

Words through my soul,
Words through my heart,
Words through my brain.

My words,
My words,
My words.

What are yours?”

– Dylan, Mary McLeod Bethune Academy (P.S./M.S. 394)

On June 21, the DOE’s Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI) team partnered with Urban Word NYC to host the City’s third annual Words & Verbs Middle School Poetry Slam Championship at the New York Public Library’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

The event is part of MSQI and Urban Word NYC’s joint Words & Verbs Middle School Poetry Slam initiative, which uses spoken word poetry and hip-hop as part of a broader curriculum that improves reading comprehension while enabling students to create original works and participate in performance opportunities. The initiative also allows students to seek advice from professional poets, who visit participating schools throughout the school year.

Approximately 200 City students attended the event from 18 middle schools, including Village Academy, Henry Hudson Junior High (J.H.S. 125), and the Urban Assembly for Future Leaders.

The slam championship kicked off with a performance from Madiba Prep Middle School’s “No Name Necessary” step team. Then, one by one, students recited their original works in front of everyone in attendance, including a panel of judges made up of Urban Word NYC alumni, previous poetry slam champions, a digital marketer, and MSQI staff.

Once the student poets finished reciting their works, School of the Future Brooklyn’s “Diversity” step team closed out the event:

At the end of the slam, the panel of judges selected six students to become this year’s Words & Verbs Poetry Slam Champions. Each student received a gift, an award, and a guaranteed spot in Urban Word NYC’s annual two-week Summer Institute, a writing/performance intensive retreat/camp led by some of the best poets out of the Urban Word NYC program.

This year’s winners are:

Note: Last names withheld for privacy concerns

Check out our champions’ winning performances for yourself!

On behalf of the DOE and MSQI, we thank Urban Word NYC for their great work with our students!

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Enjoy your summer, and we wish you all a great start to the 2017–18 school year in September!

The Morning Bell

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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