The Lincoln High School slam poetry team made some history Tuesday, winning the state championship in Omaha — the only school to win the title three times since the competition began seven years ago.
The Louder Than A Bomb Great Plains competition included 45 teams this year, with each school competing in two “bouts” at the local level, before about half of those teams competed in the semifinals at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.
Two Lincoln teams made it to Tuesday's finals at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha: Lincoln East and Lincoln High.
The finals feature four teams, and this year, Lincoln High claimed the top spot. Omaha Northwest was second, Omaha Westside third and Lincoln East fourth.
Lincoln High was the first slam poetry team in Lincoln, starting in 2012. That's the year Matt Mason, a slam poet with the Nebraska Writers Collective, brought the Louder Than A Bomb competition to Nebraska and Iowa.
North Star organized a team in 2012, and this year all six of the city's public high schools, as well as some middle schools, have teams, said Deborah McGinn, an English teacher who started the slam poetry program at Lincoln High. North Star is the only other Lincoln team to win a state championship.
Lincoln High finished third in the competition that first year, then brought home top finishes in 2013 and 2014. Lincoln High became the first school in the nation to offer a school letter for slam poetry.
For the next three years, Lincoln High didn’t make it to the finals.
“We were young, we were growing. We learned how to lose with dignity and I think those are invaluable lessons,” McGinn said. “You can’t win all the time.”
This year, the team included 24 students: 11 who perform and 13 who act as student editors, helping edit content and offering feedback to the performers.
And they’ve got some great writers and editors, McGinn said.
“They don’t write about the same old things; our group piece has a world message,” she said. “These kids just live their poems.”
And Tuesday, they brought home a first-place trophy.