Students prepare for school’s Poetry Out Loud competition


Inside the PAC. Photo by Asa Lory

Jacqueline LeBlanc

Inside the PAC. Photo by Asa Lory
The PAC will be the venue for students’ performance in the Poetry Out Loud Competition. Photo by Asa Lory
While guidance counselors aiding sophomore and junior classes with enrollment options for the next school year fill the PAC this week, tomorrow the PAC will have a different feel. At 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, nine students will perform in the school-wide competition, Poetry Out Loud.
The students competing in tomorrow’s Poetry Out Loud advanced from their class competition held before winter break, in which about 150 students total participated in, and will perform three poems they selected off of the Poetry Out Loud website. The students will be judged by three interpretive judges and an accuracy judge, which includes community members as well as retired CPS employees, said Kathryn Weaver, sponsor of Folio.
“I’m not [one of the judges] because I know the kids really well, and they’ve been coming in and practicing with me,” Weaver said. “They have to have a dramatic interpretation of the poem. That shows that they have a real understanding to the meaning of the poem and that they’ve spent some time thing about what the author is trying to convey, so they’re going to be neat, dramatic interpretations tomorrow.”
The winner of tomorrow’s Poetry Out Loud competition will then advance to compete in the regional final, which will take place from Feb. 1 to Feb. 8 in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Chesterfield, Hannibal, Kansas City, Parkville, St. Charles, St. Joseph, St. Louis and Springfield. The winners at the regional level will then advance to the Missouri State Finals, which will be held at the Etta and Joseph Miller Performing Arts Center in Jefferson City on March 14 and then ultimately the national finals in Washington D.C.
“It’s been difficult, a lot of nervousness honestly, [my practice performance] wasn’t all that excellent so I’ll have to practice more tonight,” sophomore contestant CJ Phillips said.
Weaver believes that regardless of tomorrow’s results, as well as future competition’s results, the Poetry Out Loud competition serves a greater purpose.
“I think it’s a really wonderful experience for kids. I think that memorization and poetry recitation and then performance skills is something that’s hard to fit in to the curriculum.” Weaver said, “[It’s] something we don’t do as much in education anymore, and I think it’s really nice to be able to pull a poem out of your pocket in conversation or when you’re working on an essay, and that’s a nice skill this competition give and also the performance aspect. The more times kids can get up in front of an audience and speak the better.”
Tomorrow’s performers include:
Sara Ashbaugh
Stephen Turban
Andrew Hutchinson
Haley Birk
Mikala Roach
Alex Parks
Madison Mertz
Robert Schmidt
CJ Phillips
By Jacqueline LeBlanc
Additional reporting by Renata Williams