Love Out Loud is one of Higher Achievement’s most beloved and honored traditions. The event marks the culmination of weeks of hard work and preparation. Scholars study language styles, poetic elements, and the writings of well-known authors. Then they write their own poems of love, loss, ambition, and triumph.
Selected finalists from each Achievement Center perform original poems in front of the entire center and are asked questions about their writing process and inspiration by a panel of judges. The finalists then spend the next two weeks rehearsing and polishing their poems with the help of staff, mentors, and volunteers. The Love Out Loud performance, which takes place in each affiliate city, is a night that showcases the talent, depth, and determination of Higher Achievement’s scholars and inspires everyone lucky enough to attend.
Here are some highlights from the 2019 Love Out Loud events.
Higher Achievement Baltimore
Baltimore’s Love Out Loud performance, held March 7th at the University of Baltimore’s Lucy and Vernon Wright Theater, was a hat trick. The event included stirring scholar and alumni performances, recognition of donors and champions with Golden Apple Awards, and the celebrating of a decade of serving scholars in Baltimore. The poems performed by scholars were touching, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Golden Apple Awards were given to Higher Achievement Baltimore’s courageous leaders and supporters, many of whom have been champions since the beginning.
“I’m a dreamer. Picture my tiny frame trying to figure out how to find my path to success. Stopping at nothing because I only exhibit excellence.” Aaliyah, 4th grade scholar.
“We fight. We argue. When all we want to do is fly, this is Baltimore! The place where everyone wants to be, but not anymore. We used to be known for our new starts, our hearts. And the power within us! I’m free to be me, free to change, free to just be!” Ma’Kya, 7th grade scholar.
Higher Achievement DC Metro
DC Metro presented the 14th Annual Love Out Loud Performance on March 13th to a packed house at the Shakespeare Theater Company’s Lansburgh Theatre. Poem subjects ranged from love to nature to death to living life to the fullest. In addition to the poignant poems and electrifying performances by both scholars and alumni, Thalia Washington, DC Metro Executive Director, announced that Higher Achievement will open a new Achievement Center this summer in Prince George’s County, MD.
“Aminata is very shy, but if you bug her she can easily cry. She wants to make friends. But sometimes never blends. Aminata is playful. But you can never catch her wasteful. But finally Aminata is me!” Aminata, 6th grade scholar.
“Black to me is beauty, bold, and brilliant. Without the black of the night sky, what star would ever shine?!” Stephanie, 7th grade scholar.
Higher Achievement Richmond
On March 19th, over 200 people attended Richmond’s the Love Out Loud performance held at the Dominion Arts Center’s Libby S. Gottwald Playhouse. The event was kicked off by Mistress of Ceremonies, Kelli Lemon, a social entrepreneur and radio personality on Radio One KISS FM and iPower Richmond. But, the real stars of the night were the scholars whose poems tackled subjects both tough and touching.
“Let everyone see and make a choice. So we can be authentic with each other. And stop living our lives like a masquerade. Regardless of what others might think.” Ford, 7th grade scholar.
“Do you see your future? Like I see mine. Do you see your future? Right before your eyes. See, I want to be a chef so I can cook for people in need. So when the time comes when I open my eyes I can tell myself good job, well done.” Kadyn, 5th grade scholar.
Higher Achievement Pittsburgh
Bad weather postponed the Pittsburgh event, but nothing could keep Pittsburgh scholars from demonstrating their talent at the Love Out Loud performance, held March 27th at the Jeron X. Grayson Center. Poets from Higher Achievement’s centers along with students from Community Day School shared their original, beautiful, and heartfelt works. This year’s edition of Love Out Loud focused on the theme of Love Thy Neighbor.
“Love is love, we have to love one another. Hate is a sin, so don’t hate each other. Think like each other, be like each other. Don’t hate on each other, love on one another.” Jordan, 5th grade scholar.
“You always care when I’m broke, I love you as a neighbor, and I will not joke. It is like a joy to see you every day. I am proud to be friends with you, even a country away.” Grace, 5th grade scholar.
Each year, Higher Achievement scholars across the organization put their hearts and souls into crafting and presenting their moving and often enlightening poems. Audience members have to be reminded that most of those performing are middle school students, ranging in age from 9 to 14 years old. Higher Achievement believes that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. In addition to afterschool and summer academies that challenge scholars to excel in academics and in life, events like Love Out Loud encourage scholars to find their voices and gain the confidence to speak on matters important and true to them.