Students from Hickman, Douglass and Rock Bridge high schools crowded around a small stage as the next dancers took their places. The music started, and the crowd erupted into cheers.
Rock Da Mic, a talent competition for all three schools, has provided performance opportunities to students for seven years, Hickman’s outreach counselor Maria McMahon said. Hickman has hosted the show for six years, which McMahon said began because a group of students wanted more positive activities around town.
SingingFirst place: Angela Pearl Robnett Second place: Dennis Moore
DanceFirst place: Just Hip-Hop Second place: U.N.I.Q. Third place: Nick Rodriguez
RapFirst place: Stephany Williams Second place: Disrupted Perceptions Third place: Dartalian Chapman
“It’s not an ordinary talent show,” Hickman senior Bianca Aaron, who served as emcee, said. “People look forward to it every year.”
The event showcases students’ talents and allows students to come together in friendly competition.
“Even if we don’t win, we can still reach out to our friends in the community,” Aaron said.
First-time singer Angela Pearl Robnett enjoyed the crowd’s energy and plans on performing again next year. She won first place for her performance of Janet Jackson’s “Together Again.”
“There was not any tension or drama like I expected,” she said of her performance. “It was a good atmosphere, with a lot of support and energy, which is awesome.”
Performers didn’t take Rock Da Mic lightly. U.N.I.Q., a dance group from Rock Bridge, has performed together for five years. The team practiced for two weeks straight before the show, one of the group’s main events.
“Rock Da Mic is the rowdiest performance we have, besides the Hickman-Rock Bridge (football) game,” co-captain Jasmine Brown said.
The event allowed students to express themselves. Many of the night’s 10 performances featured original work.
“We can express ourselves through dance,” Brown, 16, said. “We speak with our moves when it comes to dancing.”
Hickman rapper Atlante Guajardo writes what he feels, saying he has trouble writing when he’s in a “normal mood.” He said the world around him is a great influence.
“If I’m sad or depressed, I rap about things around me,” he said.
Guajardo, 17, who lived in Spain for 10 years, raps in Spanish. He began writing lyrics after listening to Spanish rap and was inspired by the “sharp rhymes,” beat and messages.
Guajardo, a member of the rap group Disrupted Perceptions, performed in Spanish at Rock Da Mic last year, but he said students were less than open to his performance because they couldn’t understand the lyrics. This year, he said, students didn’t want him to perform in English.
“There’s not only one language or one topic for rap and hip-hop,” he said. “It’s all over the world. People should see it’s part of a bigger culture around the world, not just something they listen to on the radio every day.”