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Open Mic provides opportunity for self expression

Open Mic provides opportunity for self expression

On Tuesday December 6, students and teachers alike went to the campus center to watch their fellow students perform in the Winter Open Mic. For those who passed it up, this unique facet of the Westminster community occurs multiple times a semester.

Not quite a talent show, the Open Mic, sponsored by the Student Diversity Leadership Council, is a time for students to sing, play instruments, share poetry, and express themselves in other ways in front of their peers and teachers. Although this Open Mic was organized to be a release party for the student literary journal, Evolutions, it focused solely on student performances because Evolutions’ publication date had been pushed back.

“Usually we have some poetry, some music, and this time we even [had] a little bit of a debate performance,” said SDLC sponsor Judy Osbourne. “The idea [of Open Mic] is creative expression such as poetry, music, original songs. [Others] might even dance or tell a joke.”

“I think it’s a great outlet for people who might not want to perform at a talent show, where you have nearly a thousand people in the audience. [Open Mic] can be a more comfortable setting,” continued Osbourne. “It’s a chance to get involved in poetry, spoken word, hip hop, and a lot of the talent that is sometimes hidden [is shown to] this community.”

Students arrived at three o’clock to enjoy pizza and snacks, while the first students performed. Throughout the next hour and a half, a steady stream of students flowed in and out of the campus center to see what their peers had to offer.

“I really enjoy Open Mics because it’s kind of like a mini talent show, [but] it’s a lot more laid back,” said junior Tyler Mitchell. “People are able to come up and do what they do best.”

Okorie Johnson, who left Westminster’s English department last year to pursue a career in the film industry, happened to be visiting and enjoyed watching the performances.

“It reminds me of all the things I miss about Westminster,” said Johnson. “I appreciate seeing how hard the kids work on whatever they’re doing. Some kids really put some time and effort into performing, and they come here and lay it all on the line. That’s always impressive.”

Students from all grades got up to share their artwork, some of which was especially unique and interesting.

Freshman Graham Huff performed an original song on guitar, citing the poetry of Robert Frost as an influence.

“I started writing it in sixth grade and finally finished the lyrics about six months ago,” said Huff. “Then I found this poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost, and incorporated it into the song.”

Huff, who also performed in the fall talent show, is a big fan of the Open Mics.

“It’s better than a talent show,” continued Huff. “There’s a lot less people there so it’s a lot less nerve wracking [and] you feel like you have a lot more friends in the crowd.”

Senior Ryan Heazel, who performed an Irish folk song, said he went out of his comfort zone to perform in the Open Mic, despite having performed The Producers for three nights in a row in October in front of a packed theater.

“I usually don’t like performing at Open Mics,” said Heazel, who has only done so twice. “It makes you very vulnerable. When you’re acting, you’re being someone else, and your ability to be that person is being judged. When you’re up at an Open Mic singing a song you chose, you’re being judged for the song you chose, how you sing it, everything.”

Many other nervous students performed, an act of boldness that did not go unnoticed by teachers.

“I’m surprised by the bravery,” said English teacher Sabrina Waldron. “I was definitely not brave enough to stand up there at 16 or 17 . . . even 20.”

Ninth-grade English teacher and guitar enthusiast Jack Morgan, who established Open Mic, is proud of the way that the students have developed the concept.

“The coolest thing is that the students and Ms. Osbourne completely [execute] it now,” said Morgan. “That’s what I wanted–for it to be for the students and by the students.”

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