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The call was between “Things We Don’t Need” and “I am, She Is, He Is, We Are” in the annual Family Focus Poetry Slam held on May 22 in the theater in the Weissbourd-Holmes Family Focus building, 2010 Dewey Ave.

The 16 members of Clutch Champions Poetry Team, sixth-through eighth-graders, and 18 members of Defenders of the Dream Poetry Team, second- through fifth-graders, worked on their individual and group poems all year, said Beth Jacobs, an expressive writing teacher who has worked at Family Focus for more than a decade.

Three opening acts preceded the slam itself. Nikko Ross presented his poem “Don’t Buy the Switch.” His conclusion: “Take back what’s yours instead of buying in stores.”

The Defenders of the Dream Dance Troupe, which had formed spontaneously from the poetry group, performed a dance in their black T-shirts with “Young, Gifted, Black” printed in gold. Strong Minds, the newest group, cut their poetic teeth on memorizing poetry. Holding a paper chain, which they broke with the first words of Langston Hughes’s “Dreams,” the group recited Nikki Giovanni’s “Because,” and Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird.”

The judges, Nina Uziel-Miller, Ph.D., Rules Jean and Maia Hubbard, LPC, rated the young poets on content and presentation. Sianna Waters of Defenders of the Dream won, with Chayse Johnson and Trinity Hampton close seconds, and the team prize went to the Clutch Champions.

“Remember, the numbers are the numbers,” Ms. Jacobs told the young poets.  “The words come from your heart.”

Clutch Champions Team Poem:‘These are the Things We Don’t Need’These are the Things We Don’t Need    guns, killing, and bodies, children     dying, people criticizinghaving deportations, families leaving    without their pleasingsThese are the Things We Don’t NeedWhat we need is control over firearms. and we need less killing.Don’t arrest people for no reason.Do not discriminate.These are the Things We Don’t NeedSo many people lose their lives because of shootingscaused by lunatics and psychopaths alike do itWe should fight instead, we should take flight, like MikeThese are the Things We Don’t NeedPeople live on the street because they get deported,they have no money to support themselvesNo anything except for the lucky ones with familiesThese are the Things We Don’t NeedWe should not judge by color but by personalityno need to kill, but I guess that’s realityIt is a free country.… We all have voices in this worldAll equal – men and women should all have the same paybecause women work just as hard as menmaybe some even harder and we’re getting paid less.Defenders of the Dream Team Poem: ‘I am, She is, He is, We are’I am, She is, He is, We are:I am someone, she is someone,     He is someone.We all matter.Be yourself and love yourself.I am, She is, He is, We are:I am gifted, she is strong, he is talented.We are all Different – make it count.I am, She is, He is, We are:Strong, because if something bad hap    pens in your life, you would let it go.not some body in the shadows.I am, She is, He is, We are: ……Say you were in a school and you     got bullied,Don’t say, “Well, your face is ugly.”Don’t say anything, just tell an adult. We are powerful people of the worldI am, She is, He is, We are: