Last night was the tenth annual competition of Poetry Out Loud at Oyster River High School. ORHS students from all grades gathered in the Durham Public Library to compete against each other, seeing who could recite their two chosen poems. 17 students partook in the competition, all critiqued by five judges, four of whom are teachers in our school system. Each contestant was judged based on the following categories: physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall presence. These scores were confidential; only the judges and the other English teachers saw and calculated the scores.
Trevor Garman, an English teacher at ORHS, was the MC for this event. He called each student to the microphone to perform his or her poem of choice, one by one. These students were not chosen at random to compete that night. Each of the Essentials of English and Poetry and Fiction classes held small competition within each class. The winner of each then moved up to the school-wide competition. After the winners were chosen, they were given a day or two to choose another poem from the Poetry Out Loud website, memorize it, and have it be performance ready along with their previous poem. If a student were to forget a line, John Monahan, an English teacher at ORHS as well as a judge in this competition, would give them a hint at the expense of points being deducted from their final score.
The poems recited were very diverse theme wise. Some were humorous while others were dramatic. Tension continued to build in the air after the first round, fueled by sound performances. Not long after the second round the results were calculated. Kerstin Nielson (‘20) took first place and Daiyao Zhang (‘17) came in second. Nielsen will be continuing on to the regional state competition against other school champions which will take place sometime between February and March.
Congratulations to everyone who competed and good luck Kerstin in the next competition!
Written by Megan Wu