JHS Sophomores Split First Place In Annual Poetry Contest

JAMESTOWN – Two Jamestown High School Sophomores have recently tied for first place in the school’s 10th Annual Poetry Out Loud Contest.

24 students took the stage at the JHS Auditorium reciting poetry as apart of the National Poetry Out Loud competition. JHS Sophomores, McKenna Schneider and Abrielle Monaghan were declared the winners with Senior Siena DeAngelo placing in 3rd place.

JHS has been apart of Poetry Out Loud for the past ten years thanks to a resurgence in poetry as an oral art form. The contest, which is open to all JHS students, requires the competitors to memorize a poem from an authorized list. Students breathe new life into someone else’s words by using only their voices to make meaning of the words.

Poetry Out Loud are evaluated on physical presence, voice, articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy. This year’s judges were Jamestown Community College Media, Visual and Performing Arts Director Simone Sellstrom, and JHS teachers Betsy Rowe-Baehr, and Charlie McKenna.

Schneider, who recited “Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam” by Dan Vera, said she found a new passion and dedication for poetry since enrolling in the schools’ Public Speaking course taught by Barbi Price.

“I’m excited to face the next round of competition” said Schneider.

Monaghan’s recitement of “Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo earned her a tie for the top spot in the competition.

“I debated between which poem to choose for this competition, and I liked this one because it felt authentic,” said Monaghan. She went on to say that she feels more confident in the way she can express the emotion of the poem, thanks to suggestions and constructive feedback from her peers in the Public Speaking course.

Mrs. Price said Poetry Out Loud helps students with their public speaking skills and build self-confidence.

“Studying a poem, making it your own, and then reciting it as a gift to the audience is a scary but richly rewarding experience. This year, the very accomplished contestants interpreted their individual poems in a way that was uniquely heartfelt and poignant. I am so proud of how far all of my students have come as public speakers” said Mrs. Price.

Both Schneider and Monaghan are currently memorizing two more poems before they travel to Buffalo on February 5 to compete against other winners from schools across Western New York. The top two finishers of that Regional competition will advance to the New York State finals in Albany, and ultimately, to the National Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington DC.


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