8th Annual Poetry Out Loud Competition


Senior Nick D'Angelo at this year's competition.

This past Tuesday, January 15th, Ramsey High School held their 8th annual inter school Poetry-Out-Loud contest. Led by Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Altiero, Poetry Out Loud is an contest uses a pyramid-like structure that begins at the classroom level. Winners then advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. To enter at a school level, students whose English teachers have chosen to participate in this wonderful activity had to recite a poem in front of their peers. Once everyone in the class had finished reciting their poem, students would then democratically vote upon who was the “best” in the class. The winning student would then be entered in a school-wide contest against other students that have won in their classes in an all epic (get it?) poem showdown.

This year’s competition had a whopping 46 participants, ranging from excited freshman to prepared seniors. The increase of participants each year could not have been possible if not for the hard work put in by the entire English Department: Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Derleth, Mrs. Sousa, Mrs. Rodriguez, Mrs. Altiero, Mrs. Fornari, and Mr. Lyle.

Every year, three teachers took their time out of their busy schedule to help judge the competition. This year, the celebrity judges were Mr. Vottero of the math department, as well as Mrs. Valente of Special Services and Mrs. Origeni of the Board Office. According to Mrs. Altiero, judging would be based on five categories: physical presence (body language), articulation, evidence showing thorough understanding, approach use of dramatic voice, and overall performance. These categories would then correspond to a point system. With every point system, however, comes a deducting system. Students would get up to eight points deducted for every minor and major accuracy mistakes they have whilst reciting the poem. The judge of accuracy every year is none other than the star of the English Department, Mrs. Martin. Mrs. Martin has played a pivotal role in Poetry-Out-Loud every year, acting as not only an accuracy judge, but also a helper in case students forget a line. According to Mrs. Martin, a minor mistake would be skipping or flipping a word, which would correspond to a one point deduction, while a major mistake would be to flip a line, which would correspond to a two point deduction. The biggest mistake, however, is to make eye contact with Mrs. Martin and ask for a line, which is a colossal three point deduction.

This year’s Poetry-Out-Loud inter school competition winner was Sophomore Paige Engkvist, and the runner-ups were freshman Connor O’Keefe, sophomore Tanner Kleinberg, junior Michael Cseh, and senior Nasim Warren. Paige recited “It was not Death, for I stood up” by Emily Dickinson with perfection, which got her the winning score. For such an exquisite performance, however, very minimal effort was required: according to Paige, she stated that it only took her a single night of reciting it over and over in front of her mirror for her to master her performance. Truly, she has one fabulous memory. With this win, not only did Paige win a $50 dollar Visa Gift Card, but also she wins a ticket to the Poetry-Out-Loud regional competition. Let us all wish for the best for Paige!