Homer High students advance to regional poetry competition

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition that aims to bring together an entire student body through poetry

Four Homer High School poetry students advanced to the regional Poetry Out Loud competition after weeks of preparation.

At the Feb. 1 school-level competition, Clark Milstead took first overall with peers Zach Marley, Sameah McGee and Thea Person rounding out the top four qualifiers.

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition that aims to bring together an entire student body through poetry. Every class competes and accuracy judges whittle down numbers to the final 17, who participate in the school-wide competition.

The recitation project begins in the classroom with students in December and January selecting a poem from the Poetry Out Loud website. In many classes students annotate or have a conversation on paper with the poem, then write a paragraph of analysis. Typically, this is an arguable thesis about the meaning of the poem with textual evidence to support the student’s opinion.

Analysis seeks to deepen the students’ understanding and aids in memorizing the poem. Class competitions are then held with pairs of students scoring each recitation based on several criteria including delivery, evidence of understanding, and accuracy. The top scorers from each language arts class move on to the school wide-competition, which was held in the Mariner Theater.

The students are the stars in this competition, but not without the help of teachers and community members along for the journey. Erin Hollowell, Mercedes Harness and Cheryl Ilg served as judges in partnership with the English department at Homer High School. Teachers Sarah Boss, Leo Dykstra and Suzanne Bishop served as accuracy judge, final score calculator and host, respectively.

Winners can earn a trip and a spot in the statewide competition in March. This will take place in Juneau, dependent on the conditions for the State of Alaska and the COVID-19 pandemic. The last stage is the National level in Washington, D.C. in May, with a representative from each state.

Submitted to Homer News by Homer High School yearbook students.