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San Marcos High School ~ Santa Barbara, CA

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Thunderous Snaps for the 2024 Poetry Slam

Mr. Freund
Contestants of the 2024 Poetry Slam: (left to right) Emily Mintz, Eric Rodriguez-Martinez, Olivia Miller, Keira Perkin, and Lesly Ricardez. (Kian Strenn not pictured.)

For two days in a row, our library sounded like a microwave heating up a bag of popcorn. Snaps echoed against the books on the walls as students shared their poems in the 2024 Poetry Slam to an audience of fellow students, poets, faculty, and friends.

On Tuesday, February 27, six contestants took to the mic to share their poetry out loud: juniors Keira Perkin and Kian Strenn, seniors Olivia Miller, Emily Mintz, Eric Rodriguez-Martinez, and Lesly Ricardez. Every poem was unique to each person and reflected the poetic minds of our students on campus. These poems ranged from a metaphor about birds to a song titled “Infinite.” 

On Wednesday, February 28, the finalists Keira Perkin, Lesly Ricardez, and Olivia Miller recited newly crafted poems to the audience and the panel of judges: Ms. Pantages, Mr. Kiyoi, and Ms. McMillan. Miller spoke a poem of taking a walk, Lesly Ricardez performed a poem sharing the struggles of growing up Mexican in the U.S. and Perkin rhetorically asked the audience if they would respond how they really felt if prompted. 

After much consideration, the judges came to a winner: Olivia Miller. 

“It felt great,” said Miller. “It’s always my favorite event of the year and this year I wrote a couple of poems that I was super proud of and it was just very affirming.” 

Miller won last year’s Poetry Slam too, making this her second consecutive year, but she has been competing in the Slam since freshman year. In addition, she has helped lead the organization of the event as the Writer’s Society co-president as well. 

“We need to have the Poetry Slam every year because it is one of the few places where we get to hear the inside workings of our student minds,” Miller said. “[The district, school, and staff] can learn the most and help the students the most when they can hear their creative sides because those creative sides are the most authentic and you don’t get that in a classroom. You only get that when you’re in the library, in a safe space, where students can express the hidden parts of their heart.”

Compared to years prior, this year had a small number of students participating in the Poetry Slam. However, that in no way diminished its merit. To add to the unprecedented nature of this slam, as the judges deliberated the winner, Shylah Alexander (a student who died earlier this school year) was honored. 

Mr. Koroshec and Mr. Freund read aloud two poems she had written that had won the Writer’s Society poetry contest this last fall. Alexander was a notable part of the Writer’s Society and Poetry Slam so it felt fitting for Mr. Koroshec and Mr. Freund to pay a tribute to her.

“I think a lot of students in this school, not just in the Writer’s Society, have been, in the past, really inspired by Shylah,” said Mr. Freund. “She brought a bunch of diverse people together by just being really open about her own feelings and being really warm and validating toward others, so we want to keep that going and encourage other writers to come forward as well as not forgetting the important people that are no longer with us.” 

Mr. Freund continued and said, “The importance of the Poetry Slam and of the Writer’s Society and those activities, is to remind everybody, even outside of English class, that writing is really important and not only can it help us externalize things that were dealing with and put that into artistic form, but that hearing them can also help, inspire, and motivate people. Art is important, always; it’s not just some kind of fun thing when we’re in the mood, but it can help us understand our world more deeply and so having these types of events and activities is important for San Marcos.”

Thus, while the Poetry Slam declared a winner of the 2024 Poetry Slam hosted by the Writer’s Society, it also thoughtfully remembered a Royal and celebrated the voices of our school. To hear everyone’s full poems visit the @sanmarcosroyals Instagram, along with Mr. Ripperatti’s emcee skills and poems shared by Mr. Brown.

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About the Contributor
Evelina Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
Evelina Erickson is a senior at San Marcos High School. It is currently her fourth year with the King’s Page. For the past two years she has been the news editor and feature editor. This year she is excited to be one of the Editor-in-Chief and the news editor. Evelina enjoys writing about all topics but especially would like to move or inspire the people who read her articles. She is also a part of the Entrepreneurship Academy on campus. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading, arts and crafts, logic puzzles, playing golf, and hanging out with friends.
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