During the May 16 Special Presentations, Councilman Jon Burgess celebrated the creativity and courage of six high school students from Homestead to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences through the medium of poetry.
Homestead Senior High School Poetry Team members were honored for advancing to the semi-finals of the Louder Than a Bomb Florida Poetry Competition, held on April 14th on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie. The competition is organized by the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network of the Jason Taylor Foundation.
“We’re here to recognize and congratulate [these students],” Councilman Burgess said. “This is more than a poetry club. What this club does is provide a safe place for participants to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions without any thoughts being put back on them, [including] reprisals or scorn from their peers.”
He then introduced Jason Crespo, their poetry coach and English teacher, who, in the first year of the poetry team, guided them to a remarkable level of creative achievement. Homestead Senior High School was one of only 20 high schools throughout Florida — mostly from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties — to reach that point.
Crespo explained, “I just guided these young ladies into feeling confident enough with their own words to communicate openly in front of large groups of people, which is sometimes nerve-wracking. I saw them blossom. They learned that the things that they were going through that they were willing to speak about openly and honestly in front of other people had value.”
For example, one of the team members, Morelia Vera, wrote a poem entitled “Venezuela,” about her strife-filled homeland that she’d left just one year earlier.
“I hope that with this accomplishment we can continue to grow this program and put people in a place where their voice is valued and that they’re listened to,” Crespo continue. “If we can continue to [do] that, then we’ll be creating the kinds of leaders who will stand up and make changes instead of waiting for someone else to make them. And really, that’s what our job as educators is — to mold and shape people who can go out and see a better future, and then do it.”
Councilman Burgess presented certificates of recognition for their participation in the “Super Bowl of Poetry, which empowers and unites South Florida’s youth and community through the art of the spoken word.” Receiving certificates were: Marlie Desarmes, Morelia Vera, Marie Andre and Jazzy Amerson. Aimee Martinez and Aliceson Marc, who were unable to attend the presentation, were also recognized.
Jazzy Amerson commented, “The poetry club has done a lot for me. I’ve progressed. I’m glad to know more about myself through my poetry. Although I may grow up and do a lot of other things, I will never forget a lot of [things] that the poetry club taught me.”
Councilman Burgess, concluding the presentation with a final congratulations, said, “There’s nothing that makes us happier at the city than to see our young people representing the city and doing such a fine job.” The girls’ proud, smiling parents joined them for a photograph with their coach and Councilman Burgess.
About The Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network
A multifaceted, after-school spoken word poetry program, the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network, is available free of charge to students actively attending Broward, Dade & Palm Beach County schools. It was created as a collaboration between the Jason Taylor Foundation and the School Board of Broward County’s Diversity, Cultural Outreach and Prevention Department and will continue to expand into the tri-county area of South Florida.
In 2015, Homestead-Miami Speedway partnered with bluapple and the following year, the partnership expanded as the two collaborated on the “Write Track” Poetry competition, a program designed for middle schoolers to submit NASCAR-themed poems.