Distance Learning: May Madness Spoken Word Tournament

Academy English faculty Paul Hamamoto ’83 recently challenged his sophomore English students to a May Madness: Sophomore Spoken Word Tournament. Thirty-two sophomores participated, forming 16 brackets. Twenty nine students were from Hamamoto’s class, joined by three students of fellow faculty member Mark Maretski ’85 who wanted to participate. Enthusiastic faculty/staff fan voting was invited and encouraged.

“The culminating project for English 2 is called the Quest Project, which is a research project that culminates in a written story, and every spring we have a gathering in the Learning Commons to showcase their work,” Hamamoto said. “Obviously that wasn’t going to happen this year, and when we went to distance learning, I added this spoken word assignment so [students] would have something that they could share without being together.” 

Hamamoto said he also wanted students to “be encouraged to speak up and say something that they felt needed to be said during this weird and anxious time, and spoken word poems are good for encouraging a little attitude.”

The poems were meant to address an essential question for sophomore English is, “What kind of world is this, and how should we live in it? “


1st place – Mia Young ’22: Trust is…

2nd place – Gio Loia ’22: I Don’t Know

3rd place – Cydni Oshiro ’22: Empty Shelves

4th place – Morgan McKinney ’22: The Unproductive Quality of Treading Water

5th place – Sydnee Funai ’22: A Pleasure to Have in Class

6h place – Alex Henkin ’22: Respect

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