Northshore Speaks: Building Community Through Spoken Word Poetry

Poets answering questions on stage after a performance

In May, Northshore students, staff and community members gathered together to hear and celebrate spoken word poetry uniquely created by the Northshore community at the District’s first Northshore Speaks event.

Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Christy Clausen opened the evening with a brief introduction about spoken word poetry.

“For those of you who are not familiar with spoken word, it is another form of communicating through poetry and often times the poet will include a gesture or movement or special sound,” she said. “They will try to add some motion and emotion to their message as they convey their poems.”

This event embodied goal four of the District’s strategic plan: innovative, creative, critical thinkers. A mix of elementary and secondary students prepared and performed poems that moved them. Topics from performers ranged from ‘My Mind’ to a conversation between Antarctica and Death Valley titled ‘Hot and Cold.’

Woodmoor fourth grader Aarav Agarkar performed his poem ‘A Teacher’s Importance.’

“They say, you never stop learning.
That is the essence of life keep the questions burning.
So let’s get the fact straight and have it stated.
The first teacher is your mom,” said Agarkar.

He went on to also share about the importance of friends and teachers who teach respect and compassion.

‘English Learners’ was performed by North Creek senior Andre Munhoz.

“Those who learn a new language acquire a new soul. Language is the mirror of a nation.
You’ll never know how difficult it is when you do not go through it,” said Munhoz.

He continued by sharing his difficulties learning English and the challenges he faced.

He concluded by saying, “With a lot of commitment, positivity and patience you will see that learning a new language is not as difficult as you imagine. After a while you will notice how good it is, will feel very confident and will not regret it.”

Performances gave students, staff and community members an opportunity to share part of their story.

Following the poetry, a question and answer session between the audience and performers was facilitated by Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction Niki Arnold-Smith. Performers talked about how long it took them to write their poem, if they had the idea of the poem before Northshore Speaks or if they wrote it specifically for the event, and about the inspiration for their poetry.

During the evening attendees also had the opportunity to view a video showcasing Maywood Hills kindergarteners sharing actions related to things they identified as important. This strategy was learned at a teacher workshop during Northshore’s Project VOICE. Kindergarten Teacher Wendi Coombs and Librarian Renee Huizenga attended the teacher workshop and from this, the two sought ways to apply their learnings, one of which was this activity. Maywood’s kindergartners voiced what was important to them and then created an action related to what they selected. The class’ favorite things included Earth, family, narwhals, videos, and more.

Clausen shared that Northshore Speaks was created out of inspiration from Project VOICE. The District plans to host the event again next Spring in an effort to continue providing multiple avenues for all members of the Northshore community to share their voice.



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