Strath Haven Coffeehouse and Open Mics: An Opportunity for Expression

As the school year progresses, there are more and more opportunities for students to fully immerse themselves in life at Strath Haven. There is a plethora of clubs from which to choose, whether involving science, foreign languages, or ping pong. Busy schedules, combined with academic demands, mean that students have their hands full. However, sometimes a break is needed from trigonometry homework and an ever-expanding sports repertoire, and to participate at Haven, you do not necessarily need to make more time-consuming commitments. With creative opportunities such as Coffeehouse and open mics, there are so many chances to get involved and fulfill a human need for expression, even just for one time only.

Coffeehouse is a well-established activity here at Strath Haven where a few times a year, students can come during third block lunches to perform or watch their peers. Those who are musically inclined may play instruments, sing, or even perform original songs.

Most members of the Strath Haven community are likely familiar with Coffeehouse, but even so, many have not given it a try. The community is privileged enough to have a place where students can show another side of themselves, as well as provide entertainment and good music for those around them. That is why it is so vital to support activities like Coffeehouse by showing up, one way or another.

There are also other activities with similar inspiration coming out of the woodwork. I sat down with Fran Kenney to discuss the Strath Haven literary open mic. Every Thursday during fifth block in PTD, students come to share their writing, whether poems, short stories, or even comedy. The biggest surprise has been that some students are bringing their own original songs to perform.

Going up in front of one’s peers can be extremely intimidating, especially with original works in hand. However, Fran explained that “You shouldn’t be intimidated by literature.” The title “literary open mic” may hold a little too much weight for prospective participants at first, but you do not have to be an experienced writer—”You just have to be someone who’s dabbled in it and wants to share.” This group prides itself on being a welcoming environment for anyone thinking of sharing their writing, even if only a one time thing. Those who just come to listen to the performances or support their peers are very much appreciated, as well. It takes bravery to share writing, and it is important for anyone thinking of performing to take that leap.

“It builds confidence to be up at a mic with people listening to you. Teenagers definitely need that.” Fran went to say how “it is all about teenage expression,” which is an incredibly important and healthy aspect to the highschool experience, especially with the daily pressures of school, whether academic or social.

The open mics vary between seminars and performances every week. Seminars include the performance aspect, but participants are given feedback in addition. This allows students to grow both by taking the step towards performing their work, and by getting a tangible understanding of how their work may be received and how to improve. For those thinking of participating, seminars are a great way to spectate and see how others perform, as well as getting a sense of  the praise and constructive criticism they receive.

While the activity is fairly new, they are hoping to continue expanding and potentially hold open mics in the auditorium.

So, if you are interested in sharing your thoughts and talents, or if you just want to have a good time, grab a guitar, grab a friend, or bring some original writing to the next coffeehouse or open mic. It cannot hurt to try, and hopefully many students will be able to leave Strath Haven and say that they put themselves out there in one way or another.