Hiba Loukssi, a Xenia High School graduate, won the Ohio Poetry Out Loud competition and competed nationally this year.
Loukssi, the daughter of a single mother from Morocco, said poetry gave her the words to explain her own experiences. She cited Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar as one of her favorite poets.
“You can find so much power within a voice, you’re going to find so much power within your own words, and I have the ability to create change,” Loukssi said. “So why am I not using that?”
She pitched ideas to her school and to the city of Xenia. She said she decided to use her voice after realizing the impact of laws and policy on her community.
“I’ve seen policy affect the members of my community in negative ways so often, and I’ve seen policy just not work the way it should, or laws not be enacted in the way they should,” Loukssi said.
With poetry, she has been able to write about her own experience of being the child of immigrants and bridging being a first-generation American and clinging to her own culture.
“I know there are so many first-generation, American-born children who know the feeling of trying to understand their family members, but there’s some kind of language barrier, or there’s a cultural barrier,” she said.
Jennifer Burgess, Xenia High School English teacher, said Loukssi is able to inspire others.
“What I find most impressive about Hiba is that her confidence, along with her enthusiasm and drive to be involved in our community, is contagious,” Burgess said.
Loukssi is headed to Cornell University in the fall.
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Editor’s note: This year’s graduating high school class overcame historic hardships amid the COVID pandemic. Of the thousands of graduates, many stand out for their talent and drive. The Dayton Daily News chose four outstanding graduates from school nominations to feature this year. Pick up Sunday’s newspaper or read our Sunday ePaper for complete graduation coverage.
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