Poetry Out Loud: Homer High students advance to regional poetry competition

Homer High School hosted the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation contest last Wednesday, Jan. 24. Students school-wide were tasked with memorizing a poem and high-scoring students were invited to participate in the student-body competition held in the Mariner Theater.

The recitation project begins in the classroom with students in December and January selecting a poem from the Poetry Out Loud website. The national website, www.poetryoutloud.org, offers the opportunity to browse poems to recite by poets, collections, poetic forms and terms or simply choosing a random poem. The website includes 108 pages of poetry choices.

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 judging panel included community member, Tyler Schlieman, Homer High librarian, Deb Curtis, and social studies teacher, Michelle Borland. Language arts teachers, Leo Dykstra and Sarah Boss also supported the judges with accuracy scoring, and Suzanne Bishop hosted the event. Reflecting on the competition, Bishop said. “I love hearing all of the poems. It’s wonderful to hear beautiful words spoken by our students.”

Many students participating on Wednesday shared feelings of nervousness. Freshmen Kia Wiesser said “I was super nervous.”

On the other end of the spectrum, senior Bryce Glidden said “I had no nerves going into it, I spent a lot of time ensuring I was well prepared.” Her preparation proved worthwhile with her first-place finish.

Glidden was one of three students moving on to the regional competition. She is joined by fellow senior, Clark Milstead, and junior Bea McDonough. Other noteworthy recitations were from senior Charity Martin and junior Brightly Thoning.

From the regional competition, selected students compete at the state level in Juneau. The weekend-long competition will take place March 10-12 and finalists will then go on to compete in Washington, D.C., on April 30. Homer students have attended the Juneau event in the past several years and report a weekend filled with poetry, collaboration, public speaking, learning, and good times with new friends from all over the state.