LHS first in nation to offer letter in Slam Poetry

Lincoln High School is the first school in the nation to offer a letter in Slam Poetry. 

A letter is an honor given to an athletic or activity participant based on participation, meeting team expectation and character.

Lincoln High and Lincoln East High School had been holding slam poetry events twice a year for many years with cooperation between Deborah McGinn at LHS and Sarah Thomas at EHS. Then an Omaha group, Omaha Writer’s Collective, started Louder Than a Bomb, Omaha as an Omaha-metro area competition, but later renamed, LTaB Great Plains, and other schools were invited to compete.

Lincoln North Star High School also participates at the state level with LHS, and the two teams finished in the top two spots this past season, with LHS winning its second straight title. 

“As sponsor of LHS I believe that if sport teams, speech, drama, and debate could letter for excellence in athletic, academic and dramatic performances, so should the slam poets who are also extraordinary at producing original polished writing on a stage,” McGinn said. “After winning the State Championship in 2013 and 2014, I knew it was the perfect time to rationalize lettering in this valuable activity.” 

In the spring of 2014, Lincoln High was first to award a letter in slam poetry. McGinn hopes to see the movement spread. 

Below are the qualifications: 


  1. Participate in community readings:
  • Tuesdays With Writers event the first Tuesday in April.
  • Barnes and Noble event. (TBA)
  • When middle schools or organizations request us. (TBA)
  • Lincoln High events:  fund raiser/slam performance for school. (TBA) 
  1. Louder Than a Bomb Great Plains offers two performances in preliminary qualifying rounds.  A letter winner will have performed in at least one of the two preliminary rounds. 

3.  Should we qualify for round 3 semi-finals or round 4, finals, a letter winner will have participated in at least one of those rounds. 

 Additional Lettering and Team Expectations:

  • All slam poets must be passing classes.  School comes before Slam Poetry.
  • Students on the slam team and alternates must understand the responsibility and the honor of representing the school and community with friendliness, good character and respect.
  • Cooperate with slam poetry school sponsor who is legally responsible for the team.
  • Cooperate with coach assigned to LHS and make sure sponsor and coach are on the same page in terms of mutual communication.
  • Attend practices and be on time.  No more than two absences— and you must communicate with sponsor if you are ill or have a conflict that keeps you from a practice.
  • Support and cheer good performances of other writers in competition.  Congratulate other poets sincerely.  You can make lifelong friends with people who share your interest and passion for writing.
  • A positive attitude toward team, sponsor and coach is a requirement.  No bullying on any level to anyone.


  • Be kind.  Everyone you know is carrying a burden of some kind.  (Dr. Charles Jones)
  • Ask permission before you hug.
  • Think team more than individual success.
  • Rather than arrogance, show humility.   A respectful tone of voice is required.
  • Think before you act and consider the consequences.
  • Be an honest trustworthy person.
  • Be reliable.  Carry through with what you say you will/what is expected of you.
  • Be tolerant to opinions and topics even if they are different from your own.  Be open-minded and listen to others.
  • Be considerate to the feelings/emotions of others.
  • No gossip!  No posting anything hurtful or negative on Facebook or any social media.
  • Learn, write, revise, and keep striving to produce your best.  Workshop with team members in and out of practice.
  • Take turns with verbal critique at practices.  This is a team so please remain aware that others deserve equal time with coach, sponsor and team feedback.
  • Express gratitude.
  • Forgive and let go.
  • Have fun