Freshman McNamee to advance to districts in Poetry Out Loud


From a previous Poetry Out Loud competition, runner-up, senior Evann Twitchell, and winner, junior Neil Cathro, stand with event coordinator Kathryn Fishman-Weaver. Cathro will go on to compete in the regional competition this February. photo by Nicole Schroeder.

Ji-Sung Lee

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Jan 18 the 10th annual Poetry Out Loud competition saw two RBHS freshman receive first place and first runner-up prizes.  
First place winner Greta McNamee and runner up Gillian Lancaster participated in the event and came out as the overall top scorers.  McNamee will also be competing again at districts in February.
Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that welcomes all high school students across the country.  Missouri Poetry Out Loud coordinator Virginia Sanders said the competition is organized by the National Endowment for the Arts.  For 10 years, this contest has attracted more than 50,000 students and more than 2,500 teachers from participating Missouri schools.
[quote]“The competitions are held at the high school level [and] the high school champion advances to the one of nine regional competitions in Missouri,” Sanders said.  “The nine regional champions advance to the Missouri State Competition, held in Jefferson City, [and then] the state champion advances to the National Competition in Washington D.C.”[/quote] This contest helps foster speaking skills and allows students to discover and pursue a passion for poetry.  Through having to recite poems, participants are able to increase self-confidence and satisfy National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) English Language Arts standards.
In addition to memorizing and performing poems, students discuss poems and write poetry of their own.  For Lancaster, her class selection allowed her to be exposed to the program and compete in a national competition.
“I got involved through my Acting Experience class,” Lancaster said.  “The process involved memorizing two poems and I had to perform my poems in front of judges.”
For McNamee, however, a required assignment forced her to compete in the event, where she placed better than she expected, allowing her to move on to the next round.
“It was a mandatory class assignment.  Performance quality was part of the final so I tried to do well,” McNamee said.  “It was kind of weird winning because there are so many passionate people in my class.  I am a bit nervous for districts because I’ve never done anything like this before, but I am excited.”
As the runner-up, Lancaster said some of the pressure is off as she is not certain she will be competing yet.
“Since I’m runner up, I won’t be going unless Greta gets sick so I’m not super nervous,” Lancaster said.  “I’m memorizing a third poem in case though.”
For McNamee, however, the past regional competition has prepared her well as she awaits the day until she will compete again.
“I plan to prepare by seeing the different emotive ways I can recite my poems and which ones are most effective,” McNamee said.  “I am pretty excited.  I love acting and performing so while being critiqued on anything is a bit nerve wracking, I plan to enjoy myself as much as possible.”
Have you ever competed in the Poetry Out Loud competition? Let us know in the comments below.