North, Harding Students Travel to National Poetry Fest

Bottom, L-R: Leah Waughtal, Dezejanee Hall, Callie Bates, Hatte Kelley, Brionna Lam; Top, L-R: Emily Lang, Larry Moore II, Joseph Jackson, Kristopher Rollins.

Good luck to six students and three teachers from Des Moines Public Schools who are traveling to the Brave New Voices (BNV) spoken word poetry festival in San Francisco from July 17-21, courtesy of a grant from the United Way!

BNV was created by Youth Speaks Inc. in 1998 after the inaugural Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam in San Francisco – the first poetry slam dedicated to youth in the world.  Since that time, BNV has grown to represent youth from all across the United States and several countries from around the world.  It is the largest ongoing spoken word event in the world.

Students attending are:

Leah Waughtal, Grade 11, North High School
Hatte Kelley, Grade 10, North High School & Central Academy
Joseph Jackson, Grade 9, North High School
Dezejanee Hall, Grade 9, North High School
Callie Bates, Grade 8, Harding Middle School
Brionna Lam, Grade 8, Harding Middle School

Teachers attending are:

Emily Lang, Harding Middle School
Kristopher Rollins, Harding Middle School
Larry Moore II, Harding Middle School

Lang says a showcase is in the works for the BNV participants and other DMPS students involved with Movement 515, a creative writing group started by Lang and Rollins with the help of a donation from Molly House, a former DMPS teacher and administrator. The showcase is tentatively slated for August 13 at Hoyt Sherman Place and will be similar to “Share the Mic” performance events held periodically throughout the school year.

For more information about the spoken word programs available in the district, visit


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