OPEF Spoken Word students shook the house at the School of Rock with their raw honesty and powerful words last week. The poetry slam, titled Respect the Mic, fostered creativity and self-expression while giving kids the opportunity to speak about their lives in a supportive environment. Spoken Word helps kids find and cultivate their voices, while offering listeners windows to their hearts.

The 18 performing students were participants in the Spoken Word Club that took place at both Julian and Brooks middle schools on Mondays. The club has been meeting since September, and the participants were given various prompts and exercises by their spoken word artist, Christian Robinson. Throughout the year, the students worked on their writing and presentation skills. Their best work was brought to the stage for the annual event, now in its fourth year.

Maya Souden won first place with her moving piece titled “Cinderella.” Octavia Ikard shared her insights on race with “The Plague of White Privilege,” which won second place. Franny Byrne came in third place with a powerful reminder of life’s struggles with “ADHD Sucks.”

Spoken Word Club participants also had the opportunity to attend Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB), a writing workshop at Young Chicago Authors (YCA) and other local Oak Park venues, including the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio to showcase their talent.