By Mitchell Mittelstedt   Published Dec 04, 2016 at 9:02 AM

About 150 third- to fifth-graders from Milwaukee Public Schools took to the stage recently at Hayes Bilingual Elementary School to perform their poetry.

"[America Scores Milwaukee] has really benefited our students, not only keeps them busy after school but incorporating academics, writing and leadership skills along the way," said Yolanda Hernandez-Garcia, principal of Hayes Bilingual Elementary School.

The poetry slam lasted just under two hours. At the end, celebrity judges gave out awards.

"It gives them confidence and builds up self-esteem," said Kate Carpenter, executive director of America Scores Milwaukee. "Those are all qualities to do whatever is they want to do in life. This is definitely giving them a start."

"My favorite part is seeing the kids being able to freely express their creativity and give us a different point of view, from whatever’s in their mind," said Marshanna Hester, CBS 58 reporter and celebrity guest judge. "Poetry is something to be interpreted, so I think it was really cool to see their creative side and for them to be able to stand up here and express that."

The slam takes place each year at a MPS different school.

"We’ve been expanding our partnership with Boys and Girls Club, COA, and some newly chartered schools, so we’re just excited to be bringing positive things to kids in the after-school hours," Carpenter said.