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Raise the Bar

Students of St George’s College emerged as the first winners of Raise the Bar, the newly launched 2018 secondary schools spoken word competition.

Seven secondary school teams from across Trinidad and Tobago competed in the championship, with San Fernando Central Secondary coming in a close second place and Bishop Anstey High, Port of Spain in third.

Bishops High School, Tobago; Signal Hill Secondary; and Presentation College, Chaguanas were among six teams that advanced to the final after topping their respective regional leg of the competition. St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando was included as a wild card.

The packed audience at the Central Bank Auditorium on Sunday 4 February included supporters and spoken word enthusiasts who enjoyed the team competition, which is a evolution from the former individual competition that was part of the Courts Bocas Speak Out Tour.

Commenting on the success of this format, Bocas Lit Fest founder and director Marina Salandy-Brown remarked, “Team work is very demanding as the performance needs careful choreography and a lot of work to ensure a very high quality performance, quite apart from the content of the poetry itself.”

She added, “I was disbelieving of the sophistication of the insights and the skill on show. Anyone who has lost hope in the future should see what our young people can do, dramatically, emotionally and intellectually, with the right support.

Raise The Bar is a joint initiative of the Bocas Lit Fest and the 2 Cents Movement. It is also the outcome of both organisations’ ongoing secondary school engagement through the dynamic Bocas Lit Fest youth project, the Courts Bocas Speak Out Tour, curated and executed by the 2 Cents Movement since 2013.

“Whilst we focus on raising students’ awareness of a range of issues using a mix of spoken word and drama, it’s also important that we find ways to challenge students to explore their own thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences. Language is the tool to help them do just that. Raise The Bar is a platform for their voices, and an opportunity for us to listen”, says Jean-Claude Cournand, Bocas Youth Outreach Coordinator and 2 Cents Movement founder.

The Raise The Bar spoken word competition was officially launched last November with an exhibition Slam featuring secondary school students and popular spoken word artists to help set the tone for newcomers. In this year’s event 13 secondary school teams throughout Trinidad and Tobago vied for title and trophies.

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