Summit High School senior Shayanna Montas reads an original poem during an open mic session hosted by the school's Word! Club. Started in 2015-16 under the guidance of advisor Lili Arkin, Word! began as a poetry group with about 10-15 students who would meet to share pieces they had written, or the work of others, and to express themselves freely through a mix of spoken word, hip hop, and rap.
Word! members decided to include others by hosting an open mic. They set up 30 chairs during lunch but, sensing a buzz was building within the building, the event was moved to the Auditorium and 500 students attended.
Word! open mic events, which now include expressions of music and dance, are now held once a month and attract from 300 - 600 students. Arvin says, “I’m so happy that Word! is a safe space for students, a space to be heard. I also love how everyone shows respect and gets respect.”
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