Poetry Out Loud


Katie Marshall

Junior Chaz Smith preforms his poem for the Poetry Out Loud judges.

Ali Collins, Writer

You may have heard talk around the school about a poem or may have even seen students reciting the same words over and over again around you. Whatever the case may be, students have competed in the classroom setting against their peers for a chance to advance in the Poetry Out Loud competition and perform at the auditorium level.

The assignment was to pick a poem that resonates with the student most. The students then had a time to practice memorizing, perfecting, and performing their poems to themselves in preparedness for the classroom competition. Each class would then pull two students that blew it out of the water for a spot in the second round. Those who advanced in the second round had a spot to compete regionally.

One main representative of this project happens to be Mr. Justin Peery. Peery is very passionate and excited about this unit every single year. Peery sees value in students reciting poetry because it’s a challenge to memorize a poem. “Watching students do something hard for them is sometimes really beautiful,” said Peery.

When asked his favorite part about Poetry Out Loud, Peery said two things. Peery likes watching students struggle and succeed at something that has challenged them. And every single class period some students will shock the whole class at how well they did. “Students get an opportunity to briefly redefine themselves to their peers,” said Peery.

As mentioned previously, students who win at the classroom level get a spot to recite their poems at the auditorium level. Two sophomores who stuck out throughout the whole process are first place winner Hanna McConnell and runner up Raegan Livers. First, the girls wowed their peers and then the judges during every performance. They will both advance and move on to compete at the regional level in early February.

McConnell learned about herself throughout this assignment and overall experience. McConnell said that at first she was just hoping for a good grade, but later found that she enjoyed performing poetry. She prepared for each performance by reading each poem many times. “Out loud, to my mirror, to my family… to anyone who would listen. I also took any pointers I was given,” said McConnell.

When asked about the backstage experience, McConnell said she was nervous at first, but then realized that she had nothing to lose which calmed her down quite a bit. “I just kept reciting the poems over and over again in my head, and then just kind of… did it, I guess. I’ve been in front of people most of my life, so performing is not a huge deal anymore,” said McConnell.

As Peery mentioned, this assignment was about being able to do something hard and nerve testing, but then later finding out the experience is successful and rewarding. This shows how students can learn and grow their confidence all through Poetry Out Loud.