Baltimore Love Out Loud

Last month Higher Achievement Baltimore celebrated our graduating 8th graders and the creative talents of all of our scholars during our Love Out Loud showcase.

Scholars shared Latin and hip-hop dance performances, a theater showcase, original works of poetry, artwork created in partnership with MICA’s Community Arts program, and books by Highlandtown scholars’ project-based learning groups.

Art Showcase


“Inner Turmoil” by Selah

I wish I could sit in silence with myself without needing to interrupt the peace with my guilt, hurt or anger. Lines and lines and lines of things my classmates said to me or something I said to them plays over and over and over again, like a scratched record. Why would I say that? I’ll think. Then I’ll start to explain why I said what I said, even though no one except my condescending stuffed animals asked. “Why would you say that?” My stuffed animals will ask, their mouths unmoving, but their eyes speaking volumes. “I don’t know,” I’ll respond. “I don’t know why I do anything.” You know, it’s easier to just sit in silence when there’s nothing you want to say. Nothing that you think should be addressed. But when you have so many things that you wish you could say, but won’t for whatever reason, well, eventually you’ll just let it spill out. The problem is that once it spills out, I’ll try to clean it up with a rag that’s already so dirty, all it’s doing is spreading the filth we call feelings everywhere, even more. Every surface, just coated in it. It’s frustrating. I don’t want to care about something dumb a classmate said to me two months ago, but I can’t get the stain off. The resentment has just been sitting for so long, that it has crusted on the surface of my mind and I can’t wipe it off. Most of the time, my classmates perceive my silence as sadness, “depression” or anger rather than considering I’m just disassociating from the world around me. And all because…what? I’m not laughing at jokes that aren’t funny after the first time? I’m not talking to anyone? Listen, I’m just existing. I’m just trying to find solace in the mind that is coated in memories of insecurity disguised as “confidence” or “humor” and memories where the guilt stems from. And I can’t find that solace in a room with people who need to fill the silence of a room just because the confines of their own minds isn’t a place they like.

So, I end up right back where I started: in my room, with my judgemental stuffed animals asking, their mouths unmoving, but their eyes speaking volumes, “why would you say that?”

Maureen Holla Awards

Former Higher Achievement CEO Maureen Holla believed that talent is everywhere—in every scholar—and in every neighborhood. To be nominated for this award our 8th graders were tasked to submit a Green Apples reflection project and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and excellent attendance at Higher Achievement.

Congratulations to our Maureen Holla Award recipients!

Overall Awardee: Zander

Zander is a talented poet and compiled a powerful anthology of her poems over her time at Higher Achievement.

An Ode to HA (written in 7th grade)

An Ode to Higher Achievement
Not quite a person but a place I love.

An Ode to Higher Achievement
All the academic progress I made here, with Higher Achievement,
learning new ideas, an outlook outside of my own.

An Ode to Higher Achievement
For all the people I’ve met along the way, especially my best friends
All sisters and brothers to me, bound by care, not by blood.

An Ode to Higher Achievement
For how much I’ve grown, mentally my mindset deepend, improved as well as developed.

An Ode to Higher Achievement
Because I’ll be leaving next year.

Highlandtown Awardee: Marco

Marco created an interactive presentation of his Higher Achievement experience. He credits Higher Achievement with helping him improve his English fluency and reading, advance his leadership skills, and practice problem-solving. “The program’s impact on leadership skills, STEM knowledge, and community involvement has been remarkable,” says Marco. “It has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in school.”

Lakeland Awardee: Rhianna

Rhianna created a showcase of her Higher Achievement experiences that helped her prepare for her future in high school and beyond. “My favorite memory at Higher Achievement was the University/College Trip to Temple University,” reflected Rhianna.  “It showed me what type of school I wanted to go to. I think the university I want to go to is Temple University because it showed me that whatever career you want or job they will help you no matter what…”

Closing Remarks

Mt. Royal scholar Aiden provided closing remarks for the evening, sharing his thanks for his time in the program and noting, “Higher Achievement helped me because they helped me understand what it was like to be in high school so I knew what to prepare for.”

Congratulations to the Higher Achievement Baltimore Class of 2024!