The winners include champion Ciara Black, Brittani Pederson in second place, Meeri Shin in third and Rachel Callais in fourth. The competition, presented in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.
On Jan. 26, Walker Valley High School students participated in the second annual Poetry Out Loud school contest at the Media Center of Walker Valley.
Walker Valley’s champion, Black, will advance to the East Tennessee Regional Poetry Out Loud competition on Feb. 17 at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville. The top three contestants from the regional contest will advance to the state competition, which will be held in the State Senate Chambers of the Capitol Building in Nashville.
Each champion at the state level will receive a cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship May 13-15. The school of the state champion will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.
At Walker Valley, students recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 600 classic and contemporary poems. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, vocal articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, and accuracy.
Teachers introduced poetry recitation in the classroom using materials created by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation, including a standards-based teacher’s guide, a website, a “best performances” DVD, and a CD featuring poetry recitations by well-known actors and writers such as Anthony Hopkins and Rita Dove.
Judges for the Walker Valley event included retired teachers Deborah Holland, Sylvia Idom and Maurine Nichols Olin; Keisha Parks, children’s librarian at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library; Pete Vanderpool, who is self-employed; and Sheila Webb, a reading tutor for Cleveland City Schools.
Walker Valley business teacher Rebecca Brady served as score tabulator, and English teacher Gwen Lane was school coordinator for the contest. Kevin Lane, a recent graduate of East Tennessee State University, served as master of ceremonies.
Walker Valley students helping to stage the event included Will Tarver, videographer; and Kaley Carroll, prompter. During intermissions, the audience was treated to refreshments coordinated by Samantha Beyers and jazz music provided by students Brett Buckner, Grant Yost and Clayton Welch.
Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country.
Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a schoolwide competition, then to the East Tennessee Regional Poetry Out Loud competition in Knoxville, then to the Tennessee Poetry Out Loud competition in Nashville, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, D.C.
Nearly 300,000 students across the country took part in Poetry Out Loud in 2010-11.