From posters tacked on classroom walls to the poetry class, poetry is present all around Staples. At 2:30 p.m. in the library on February 11, the Poetry Out Loud competition shed these works of literature in an entirely new light.
Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that starts at the school-wide level. The student who wins at this level moves on to a regional or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.
Students are judged on elements such as physical presence, dramatic appropriateness and evidence of understanding; awards include up to $50,000.
However, for the Staples community, the experience is more valuable than the prizes.
English teacher Delbert Shortliffe, who volunteered as the Accuracy Judge, played a part in bringing Poetry Out Loud to Staple
s because he was so impressed by previous winners.
“[The champions] were seriously moving,” he said. “Striving to know a poem well is a way of interpreting it, and this contest is another way of getting kids to think well.”
Julia Greene ’15, who won the contest for the second year in a row, said that it helped her appreciate poetry. “The best part has been the appreciation of poetry that has been instilled in me,” she said.
George Menz ’16, runner-up to winner Greene, said that the experience also helped him with presentation skills. Participants Erika MacDonald ’17 and Jisu Ahn ’17 agreed that the contest helped to build self-confidence.
“The skills are only going to make your life more interesting and be assets moving forward,” English teacher Alex Miller, who organized the event this year, said.
In the end, the thrill of reciting poetry was enough for participants to join Poetry Out Loud.
“The best part for me was just being able to make it through my poems,” participant Shannon Cardoza ’15 said. “I was really shaky but I managed to keep going, and that was just really awesome.”