02/13/05 — Belfast Academy holds open mike night

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Belfast Academy holds open mike night

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 13, 2005 2:10 AM

Doctors told Brandie Barrett's mother she would never be able to have children. But in 1987, she gave birth to Brandie, her only child she always called a "blessing to the world."

Thursday night, Brandie read a tribute to the mother who passed away several years ago.

She was among 10 middle and high school students at Belfast Academy whose creativity was showcased Thursday night during the school's first open mike night called "Poetry Slam."

Students read from original works or a favorite poem before an audience of staff, parents, and their peers. They were judged on the message as well as originality, style, poise, eye contact, and voice.

The theme was heroes, with prizes given to the three highest scorers.

Miss Barrett won first place and received a $50 Wal-Mart gift certificate.

Marquill Coley shared a poem about Harriet Tubman and her courageous struggles as a slave. He was given the second-place prize of a $30 gift certificate to Wal-Mart.

Freshman Michelle Grimes read from a memoir called "The Day I Got My New Home and Family," recounting her journey to being adopted by a family. As third-place recipient, she was given a $20 Wal-Mart gift certificate,

Belfast, one of two alternative schools in the Wayne County public school system, is viewed by some as a haven for students with discipline problems. Educators there see it differently.

Principal Craig Uzzell said, "Sometimes they just made a bad choice and they come out here. But you can see the caliber of kids that we have out here. We're very proud of them."

He said the idea for the poetry reading came over Christmas, when his staff discussed ways to get parents more involved in the school programs.

"All of our staff has really worked hard to get everything organized for us," he said.

English teacher Maurice Nicholson, who helped organize the event, said, "Our young students today have many obstacles that they must overcome. It's imperative that we showcase them."

He recalled a proverb that "poets are born, not made" adding that "as educators, we can and must nurture that talent.

"As a teacher, I try to inspire students every day, but I want them to know that they inspire me."

Others who participated in the "Poetry Slam" were students Keith Lofton, Kiarra Jones, Ashley Bullock, Jamiere Lassiter, Ashley Stramara, Heather Duquette, Willie Darden, Nikia Shadding, and Shatamkia Winn.

Entertainment was provided by Belfast's drum line, Maurice Artis, ReChard Croom, Juvon Ferguson, and Jacquarius Howell. Students Anthony Barnes also read a recitation and Anthony Wheeler was emcee for the evening.