Spoken Word’s Fall Showcase showcases new talent


Libby Eggert

Micah Daniels (front) and her team at the Spoken Word Fall Showcase

Libby Eggert, Staffer

In between the main stairs on the third floor, Micah Daniels and her team practiced their poems for the Spoken Word showcase. Working on developing choreography, memorizing the lines to each other’s poems, and practicing performing with emotion is a lot to balance. Sponsors Peter Kahn and Christian Robinson noted the Fall Showcase was the first high school performance for 45 percent of the Spoken Word students

For Daniels, it’s her second time as a captain but only her third OPRF showcase. Like many captains, the responsibility of being in charge can be daunting, especially with students who have never worked with Spoken Word before. But for Daniels, the unique relationships she fosters with her team outweigh everything.

Between the 66 students, there are 16 teams; each has one or two captains and two to four students. Captains are selected by Kahn and Robinson, based on a combination of their experience and promise of leadership skills.

The most significant change of being a captain is the responsibility, says Daniels. “Whether or not your group is on task and getting done what they need to is dependent on you…sometimes you have to be meanish, which is never fun,” she says.

However, captains leave a lasting impact on their peers and create an environment welcoming growth. Robinson says the dynamic is more similar to a sports team in contrast to other arts programs like Orchesis or theater, where everyone practices their independently assigned role. Student captains give rookies a chance to demonstrate their responsibility and leadership in hopes of becoming captains as upperclassmen. Students also create life-long bonds and learn from mentors who were in their shoes not long before.

Eli Gerace, a senior, still remembers the way her first captain made Spoken Word feel like home, even though she was just a freshman. “Savi [Valle] and the rest of our group…showed me the type of family I could develop every season if I stuck with it.” Kahn says they try to always create different combinations of teams every showcase, so they can build a stronger community. Family is a common theme for students who participate in Spoken Word. Kaleigh Clarke, a junior, says her first captain, Majesty Gunn, made sure Clarke “felt a part of her family even though we saw each other twice a week.” 

Being a captain gives kids a chance to step up and take leadership, even outside of the club, and it leaves a lasting effect. Kahn explains that Kahn takes the time to thank each of the 16 alumni who have volunteered as mentors, club assistants or critiqued performances before the showcase. Alumni, who graduated anywhere from 20 years ago to last year, take time to visit Spoken Word and see the showcase. Robinson himself is an OPRF Spoken Word alumni who now runs the program with Kahn. 

Before the showcase, Kahn and Robinson asked the captains to share the best piece of advice a captain every gave them. Gerace says “When you perform for the crowd, you want them to feel everything the way you did when you were experiencing whatever your poem is about, and the only way to do that is to convey that emotion without being too robotic.” Passing on this advice means Gerace knows Kahn and Robinson trust her experience to be a face for the club, but it holds a deeper meaning for her: “being a captain means it’s my turn to give back everything this club has given me since freshman year.”