Screams erupted Tuesday in the Washington Pavilion for the brave poets who performed.

Young teens from every school in the Sioux Falls School District hollered and whooped, all in the name of an ancient literary art form.

The Eighth-Grade Poetry Slam is a farewell of sorts, a massive event near the tail end of middle school, before classmates part ways for high school, said Kriss Ibis, a language arts teacher at Whittier Middle School.

It was a raucous goodbye.

“They’ve been through all of this together,” Ibis said.

April is National Poetry Month. Not all of the 1,700 Sioux Falls middle school students who attended the massive slam at the Pavilion got the big stage, but nearly all participated in the smaller classroom and school-level contests leading up to the final event.

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