Tacoma school students performed their poetry at Louder Than a Bomb Poetry Slam April 28th

TACOMA, WA – After months and hours of writing and rehearsing their poems, a team of Tacoma students from Summit Olympus High School, a public charter school, competed in the Louder Than a Bomb Poetry Slam last weekend, with 11th-grader Tyshawn Morehead making it to the finals. A video of his performance can be seen here.

“I’m excited to show Tacoma our creativity, express ourselves and show them what we’ve learned,” said Kai Vaughn-Hufstader a 10th grader at Summit Olympus High School and captain of the school’s Louder Than a Bomb team. “It has been such a fun experience working with my classmates and become better writers, friends and learn leadership skills.”

Louder Than a Bomb-Tacoma: The Tacoma Teen Poetry Festival, a program of Write253 is an annual teen team poetry slam festival, held during National Poetry Month, that features poets ages 13-19 from schools and community organizations all over the South Puget Sound – schools and teams from all over Tacoma and Pierce County compete against each other in a friendly battle of words.

Summit Olympus students were introduced to poetry through their creative writing class teacher Gloria Muhammad. Gloria grew up in Tacoma and has been a teacher at Summit Olympus High School since the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Students in Gloria’s class explore different forms and styles of writing including poetry and journalism as well as presentation and public speaking skills. A group of students formed a team for the poetry slam and have been meeting weekly to work on and share their pieces since February. The team is composed of four students, 9th-graders Kaycee Ober, and Alani Elliott, 11th-grader Tyshawn Morehead, and 10th-grader Kai Vaughn-Hufstader. (Pictured left to right, below).

From left to right: 9th-grader Kaycee Ober, 9th grader Alani Elliott, 11th-grader Tyshawn Morehead and 10th-grader Kai Vaughn-Hufstader Image courtesy Summit Public Schools

From left to right: 9th-grader Kaycee Ober, 9th grader Alani Elliott, 11th-grader Tyshawn Morehead and 10th-grader Kai Vaughn-Hufstader
Image courtesy Summit Public Schools

“I’m so proud of the hard work and growth of the students,” said Gloria. “The team’s comradery, respect and openness to come out of their comfort zone has been amazing to see. … I appreciate the courage, tenacity, and perseverance each of them display. It’s not easy to perform on stage or express yourself with others, I commend each of them for taking the leap to express themselves with other people – from the beginning until now.”

Gloria added that being a part of the Louder Than a Bomb team has helped Kai and other students to blossom in school. She said that Kai is leading writing activities, and enjoys sharing her work with her classmates. The principal of the school has also seen students in Gloria’s class and the Louder Than a Bomb Team grow academically, socially and become more engaged in school.

“We strive to give students opportunities to find new passions and build community in the courses we offer,” said Greg Ponikvar, principal at Summit Olympus High School. “I’m very happy the creative writing course has helped students become closer and develop skills that will help them in school and prepare them for success in college. The students definitely live up to the motto of Summit Olympus High School – Always Rising. Always Together.”

A Louder Than a Bomb End of Season Celebration Reading will be held May 2nd, at 7PM at Real Art Tacoma, featuring spoken word artists Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Derrick Brown, and Anis Mojgani. Real Art Tacoma is  an all-ages venue located at 5412 S. Tacoma Way.

Summit Olympus is a public charter high school. All Summit schools are state approved, tuition-free and open to all students. Learn more at http://olympus.summitps.org/

About Summit Public Schools: Summit Public Schools is a leading charter management organization serving diverse communities in California and Washington State. Summit operates 11 schools and shares its personalized approach to teaching and learning with more than 300 schools across the United States for free. Historically, 99 percent of Summit Public School graduates are accepted into a university, and Summit Public Schools graduates complete college at double the national average. To learn more, please visit www.summitps.org.

About Write253: Write253 is a literacy arts organization that seeks to encourage young people in Tacoma and Pierce County to express themselves through writing, performance, and publication. We believe in the inherent talents of all young people to write their own stories, to discover their own inner artist, and to speak for themselves.

- Summit Public Schools, Write253