Summit High School offers students many educational opportunities outside of regular math, science, history, and English classes. There are academic help centers open during the school day, AP and honors courses and college fairs. Until the creation of 'Word!' open mic, however, Summit High School had fewer opportunities for its more creative students.
'Word!' open mic is a monthly variety show featuring writers, vocalists, and musicians from every grade and group in the high school. Students sign up to be apart of the lunchtime performances that are watched by an audience of their peers in the school's auditorium. The monthly show is run by Lily Arkin, an English teacher and adviser for the poetry club.
During the show students play or sing popular songs, read well known poetry, or perform original pieces. Performers are permitted to be as creative as they want with their acts, making the show a combination of soloists, comedic poems, raps, polished musical pieces, and just about everything in between.
Laura Coats is one of three emcees for 'Word!' open mic, as well as a regular performer. She claims that the ability to share her poetry allows her to “de-stress” a bit during a rather stressful school day.
The opportunity for students to speak, play, or sing without censorship in a school setting is rare, and it is precisely this freedom that draws students to the shows.
“As young performers, we thrive on the energy that comes from being in front of an audience,” said singer and instrumentalist Donell Williams "I personally have become more passionate about music since my peers encourage me to keep performing my songs".
Since its founding in the 2015-16 school year, 'Word!' open mic has been growing in size and in performance quality. The show has become so popular that during its December performance, not all the acts that signed up were able to preform during the lunch period. For this reason, the poetry club has decided to move open mic to a separate venue, namely the summit establishment, MONDO.