COLUMBIA — TGIF. Many students wait all week to celebrate the weekend away from the classroom. But Columbia high school students didn’t mind coming back to school this weekend.
The seventh annual “Rock Da Mic" competition took place Friday night at Hickman High School. Instead of being out with their friends, students from Hickman, Rock Bridge and Douglass High Schools spent their Friday night on stage singing, rapping, dancing and reading poetry with their teachers and family members.
“It’s a fun, positive thing for kids to do,” co-sponsor Maria McMahon said.
Parents and students eagerly waited to hand in their tickets to enter the building more than an hour before show time. By the time the audience was allowed to enter, there were more than 150 people in attendance.
While the crowd waited for the show to start, a DJ entertained the audience with hip-hop and rap music. Like a concert, the audience members did not take their place in seats, instead crowding behind yellow barricades surrounding the stage.
“The students take ownership of this event. They really get into it,” Hickman teacher Phil Overeem said.
The evening started with a dance from the MU Black Culture Center “Freestyle Your Expression” group.
A rap duo took the stage next. However, they did not perform in English. Atlante Guajardo, a senior at Hickman, rapped with fellow senior Nicholas Rodriguez in his native language, Spanish.
Before Guajardo and Rodriguez’s performance, Overeem expressed his confidence in the pair.
“They will blow people away,” Overeem said.
Dance and rapping were not the only performances at the Rock Da Mic competition. Individuals and groups also sang and read poetry.
Aja Matthew, a junior at Rock Bridge, read poetry that she wrote titled “Unity.” This is her first year at Rock Bridge and her first year in Columbia. She recently moved from St.Louis.
“I’m proud of her for participating in school functions,” said Aja’s father, Kenneth Matthew.
“I’m nervous, but I have friends that are performing, too,” Aja Matthew said.
The evening concluded with awards to the top performances in each category of rap, singing, poetry and dance.
First place awards went to Joe Riley from Rock Bridge, for his rap; Angela Robnett from Hickman, for her rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Emotion”; Reuben Smith from Hickman, for his poem “Why”; and U.N.I.Q. from Rock Bridge, for a stomp dance.
The Bridges Club, with members from all three high schools, sponsored the event. The club organizes activities for students. McMahon said that the event and other activities are arranged to offer alternatives to drugs and alcohol.
A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales went toward the “Not For Sale” campaign to stop human trafficking.