The Sixth Form College offers a range of academic qualifications, while also promoting a number of enrichment activities. Students are encouraged to create their own societies if they do not already exist.
Following on from a similar event for LGBT+ History month back in February, first year A Level student and organiser Harry O’Connell has developed the Open Mic project into a recurring show, opening its doors for the first time in April.
“We organised the first event in February with a bake-sale tied in and donated the proceeds to an LGBT+ charity. A week later, I got involved in the CANDI talent show, which opened my eyes to how fun performing is to do – but also to watch.
“I started thinking about setting up my own open mic, the point being to create a space where people could come and perform anything. The last two events have been a huge success, and it’s growing from strength to strength as we all become more confident.”
The event itself ran for a couple of hours during some downtime after lessons. A large crowd of students seemed happy to put down revision books for a moment to get involved in supporting friends and newcomers. During the show, host Harry acknowledged that some performers were new to the stage, practising new material for the first time.
“The event is made for anybody to come along and perform. Whether it’s their first time or their fifth, it doesn’t really matter to me,” Harry explained. “Quite a lot of my friends come along, but it’s been good to see people I don’t know contributing, too. That’s something I’m really proud of.
“We’re marketing the event as widely as we can, and the intention of that is to get new people to come along and perform with us, definitely.”
Student Services Youth Worker, Yasmin Whittaker Khan, offered support, praising the students for their ambition to create a new enrichment activity themselves:
“The open mic events allows students the space to share their art forms in a relaxed environment. It’s been wonderful to see participants’ confidence building over the sessions, and they have truly taken ownership of the space to explore and express.
“Having enrichment space for this activity has given the students a feeling of being valued and a sense of community. Each event we see someone new emerge from the back of the hall. They often start reluctant, but their peers encourage them to go on and perform.
“Once they’re on stage, they sparkle.”
A warm and inclusive environment, the show was a great opportunity for students of all creative backgrounds to learn a bit about themselves in front of an audience, with the full support of their comrades behind them.
As well as running a vast range of activities, clubs and events like this open mic gig, the Sixth Form College runs over 30 A Level courses for 16-18 year olds. Every year, hundreds of our students pass their A levels with us and progress to university, apprenticeships or full-time work.