Charter Oak High School

Slam poetry organization works to help at-risk youth

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Many high school students spend their free time busy with homework, sports, or work.  But those involved with Get Lit can say they spend their time exploring the art of poetry and taking field trips to the Geffen Playhouse.

Get Lit was founded by Diane Luby Lane in 2006 when she realized how few creative resources were available to students, especially for at-risk youth. The program now works to help students in all aspects, not just in performing poetry.

“The model works because of the unique curriculum which pairs classic, iconic poems with students’ original, spoken-word responses,” said Veronika Shulman, Get Lit’s Marketing & Communications Manager. Shulman also helps the poets by editing their works and college application essays.

In the in-school program, students learn from a specially designed curriculum that aligns with the Common Core standards. While the program is open to all, students typically come from areas with high drop-out rates. Get Lit also offers weekend and summer workshops with field trips and poetry performances.

The program gives students the opportunity to become a Get Lit Player, part of a professional performance troupe that performs all over the country.

“The Get Lit Players also do a thing called ‘BLITZ Shows’” said Shulman. “[They] are assemblies where our students perform for different schools.” These players are chosen through a competitive audition process and boast the title of being the most watched poets on the Internet.

During a time where literacy levels are decreasing and college admissions are become harder and harder, Get Lit offers experience and a safe creative space for students to explore ideas. But not only does Get Lit serves as a place for teens to read, write, and perform, it also connects teens with mentors to guide them through high school.

“It’s crazy to know that something like Get Lit exists,” said Shulman. “And even though I never had the privilege of participating in something like this when I was younger, it’s so amazing to participate now.”

Get Lit teaches participants about the importance of passion, commitment, and responsibility. They work to not only encourage teenagers, but to inspire the community to act on things that they care about and take control of their livelihood.

The annual Classic Slam, an event where Get Lit Players compete for scholarships, will take place from April 28-30 at the Orpheum Theatre. Tickets are available now at getlitclassicslam.org. For more information or to join Get Lit, contact info@getlit.org.

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