Oak Park and River Forest High School students Kara Jackson, Levi Miller, Tamia Byrd, Maggie Farren, Morgan Varnado, Corina Robinson, Nicholas Berry, Kyla Strickler, along with student-coach Leah Kinder, finished as runners-up at Louder than a Bomb, the largest youth poetry festival in the world.
The team came in second place out of 108 participants at the event, which was held at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago over the weekend.
“We lost to an incredible team from Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep [from Chicago] and finished ahead of great teams from Whitney Young and Crane Medical Prep,” said OPRF teachers Peter Kahn and Adam Levin, who facilitate the OPRF Spoken Word Club.
Kahn and Levin said that the young poets were treated like Nobel laureates, with Young Chicago Authors, the competition’s sponsor, providing a stretch limbo for the students.
“That set the tone for the first-class treatment we received throughout the day and evening,” they said. “We are extremely proud of how our team conducted themselves on and off the stage. They were simply remarkable.”
OPRF represented in other ways as well, with alumnus Langston Kerman appearing one of two special guest performers. The other one was hip-hop icon Rakim.