PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Eight Port Chester High School students shared compassion and courage on Thursday during the school's 11th annual Phyllis Wheatley Poetry Slam.
Topics ranged from date rape and eating disorders to success, self-discovery and inequality.
Jennifer Pantoja, moved the audience -- and herself -- to tears while reading her poem, "Until I Was," about her own past life-threatening struggles with weight loss.
Kevin DeLaRoca placed second with his poem, "Prisoner to Society."
Robert Mickatavage placed third with his poem, "What is Success."
Club Advisor Nelson Diaz inadvertently called Robert "Rocket," but Mickatavage enjoyed the unintentional nickname.
Diaz said the club, which meets every Monday, has been an inspiration for him during his first year of teaching at PCHS. Diaz kicked off the poetry slam by reading another author's poem about Malcolm X's assassination called, "Bullet City."
Three students broke from the traditional format by collaborating together on a poem called "We are Women,'' which explored their unique differences and strengths -- parts of which were read by Pantoja, Simone Aikens and Diane Maldonado.
Other PCHS students participating in the club and Thursday's "slam" were: Christopher Chino, Joshua Lopez, and Adriana Siguenza.
Mattie Gooden offered opening remarks.
High School Principal Mitchell Combs, said he and the rest of the judging panel were impressed by the high quality of the poems and complex subject matter. Combs said it was extremely difficult to pick the top three winning poems.
Combs was among the slam's judges, who also included: Cathyanne Bassett, Caryn Rodman, Maria Somers and Byron Womack.
Return to Daily Voice for additional video and photos from the poetry slam.