Commentary #55: A Must-See, Incredibly Powerful Message from Beautiful Seventh Grader’s Slam Poem

Slam Poetry

Image Credit: The Odyssey Online

I found the video below on Facebook recently, and it spoke volumes to me:

Background: At the end of this past school year (The video was posted on Facebook on May 25th), this beautiful 7th grade girl at Queen Creek Middle School delivered this incredibly powerful slam poem. This was part of the end of her 7th grade writing class.

Caption from 12 News: “When a 7th grade writing class at Queen Creek Middle School presented poems for their end of year assignment, one student stood out with a powerful message.”

It’s been viewed over 33 MILLION times.

According to the public comments, this beautiful young lady is named Olivia.


Her teacher publicly commented on the video. His name is Brett Cornelius. He was the one recording Olivia’s performance, and obtained her parents’ permission before sharing it.

“She presented this for almost every single 7th grader. They were moved to tears, as was I. She’s brilliant beyond words, and this poem is just the icing on top of her perfectly cooked cake. What’s even more incredible is that she worked on this for over a month, truly digging into the raw depths of teenage hood and expressing her feelings of the good, the bad, and the ugly of walking the halls of the school as a young woman. She’s humble and honest, that’s for sure. I’m proud to have met this little lady!”

“I am her teacher and that assignment was one I went back and forth about assigning for weeks. Obviously, there are no regrets. She transferred to our school, so unfortunately I was not prone to her incredible educational aptitude, but we worked tirelessly to give her creative outlets to express herself. Her parents advocated for her the entire way, too. She’s a blessed child, that is for sure. Thank you!”


It’s hard to hear some of her words, but her message is profound.

I think I’ve watched this video at least a dozen times since I shared it to my own Facebook timeline on Friday, July 21st. And, every time, it’s given me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

This doesn’t apply to just middle school, or just 7th graders, or just girls.

Yes, Olivia directly addresses middle school girls, but her message is more powerful and more far-reaching than that.

I saw myself in Olivia’s words. I saw myself in Olivia’s voice. I saw myself as Olivia struggled to hold back her emotion. I saw the tears in her eyes, as I felt tears in mine.

I saw myself in middle school – Glasses, braces, acne. Experimenting with makeup, but not allowed to wear much of it. Trying to be my own person, but also wanting to fit in.

I saw myself in high school – Exchanging my glasses for contact lenses. No more braces. Wearing makeup a bit more often, but not too much. Trying to keep up with the rigors of IB, while not showboating to the kids in orchestra and gym who were the regular kids.

I saw myself in college – Finally, freedom! But, with that freedom, I also endured a four-year-long abusive relationship. When I finally saw the light at the end of my junior year, I saw a shell of myself. I was broken. My confidence had vanished, although I’m sure I was still super enthusiastic on the outside. Deep down, I knew I needed to leave, to escape, but I was also terrified that no one else would love me, no one else would want me.

I even saw myself now, in the present day – I struggle with body image. I struggle with the fact that I’ve gained 25+ pounds since graduating from college six years ago. I’m getting better with my eating habits, and I drink far less soda than I used to. I drink at least 75 ounces of water every day, if not a little bit more. I only consume alcohol sparingly now (The good stuff is expensive, haha!) I know that my day job is a major contributor – I’m behind a desk eight hours a day. I wear makeup almost every day, but I don’t feel like a clown. I feel grown-up and professional.

But, I’m also a human being. I have feelings. And it’s okay to have these feelings.

The point I’m trying to get at is Olivia’s message is important for EVERYONE to hear. Maybe that’s why it’s been watched over 33 million times. What this amazing young woman wrote and performed (by memory, no less) is a reminder to everyone that we hide behind our true selves.

For me, personally, I don’t want to be so afraid. I don’t want to be so scared of or disgusted by my body image. I want to embrace it, as best that I can, at least. I want to continue to be confident. I don’t want to fake it until I make it as much anymore. I want to be as genuine as possible.

Can I do that? I know I can.

Olivia, you’ve certainly inspired this 29-year-old. Let’s do this. Thank you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #35: Back to School

Back to School - pinterest

Image Credit: pinterest.com

Thinking about the first day of school tomorrow for kids, parents, and teachers in southeastern Virginia, I wanted to share a comment that I made, in response to the Back to School post on Ellis Nelson Books:

I loved almost everything about school, with the exception of math. However, that attitude started to change in my freshman year of high school. I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Zwemer, for Geometry. Almost immediately, she could tell that I was struggling and offered to stay after school with me every single day, if I needed it. She quickly became one of my favorite teachers and a confidant of sorts, since I had just started the still-fresh International Baccalaureate (IB) program at a high school that was 15 miles from home. She helped me learn to appreciate math. I didn’t have her in 10th grade for Algebra II, but I was thrilled when I was able to have her again for both junior and senior years. I still remember how proud she was of the effort and dedication I put into the Internal Assessment (IA), where I had devised a student survey of their favorite roller coasters at the Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion theme parks and then used math concepts to analyze the data.

She taught math with a fervent passion, raised a beautiful family, and fought cancer valiantly. She beat breast cancer, had an eight-year remission, and then she was diagnosed with metastatic disease the year after I graduated from high school. This diagnosis caused her early retirement in 2012, and everyone mourned, after teaching for just 18 years. I have a greater appreciation for Buzz Lightyear because of her – Anything and everything Buzz-related decorated her classroom.

She died, peacefully, on January 2, 2015. She was 56 years old. My mom and my now-husband went to her funeral with me, and both of them were lucky enough to have met her several times before the cancer took her away. I think of her every day. She lives on in all of us. To infinity and beyond!

Buzz Lightyear - wundur

Image Credit: wundur.co.uk

I hope everyone has a great start to the new school year!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂