January marks the coming of the New Year, and also the start of Poetry Out Loud. This poetry competition is a popular high school event where students across America participate in school, regional, and national competitions, performing a poem of their choice from memory. Led by Mrs. Altiero and Mrs. Rodriguez, Poetry Out Loud has been hosted by Ramsey High School for the past five years.
Over the past five years, Mrs. Altiero said she has witnessed many hidden talents within her students through their excellent public speaking skills and emotional performances.
This year, the school-wide contest took place on the first week of January. “We had over 30 students compete, which is our largest turnout so far,” says Mrs. Rodriguez. Of the several who competed within their classes, two from each grouping were selected to perform their poem in front of the school on January 11th. The amount of interest this year has been in large part due to the dedication and commitment put in by Mrs. Altiero, Mrs. Rodriguez, Mrs. Derleth, Mrs. Sousa, Mrs. Fornari, Mrs. Martin and Mr. Lyle. Of all those who participated, two winners were selected: senior, Emma Diamond, coming in first place, and Brian Long, who is also a senior, coming in second.
After Emma’s victory, Mrs. Altiero commented, “I’m excited. Emma moved me
emotionally when she recited her poem. Also, I’m proud because I taught her freshman English and I have her now, so it makes me proud to see her progression and her accomplishments.” Because Emma won the school contest, she will advance to the Regional Competition at Bergen Community College on February 23rd.
According to Mrs. Altiero and Mrs. Rodriguez, there are two rubrics: performance and accuracy. The performance rubric has five grading sections- physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance. The accuracy rubric is scored based on minor and major inaccuracies. An example of a minor inaccuracy is “confusing a pronoun,” which is a one-point deduction, while a major inaccuracy would be “skipping 1 stanza,” which is a six-point deduction.
Monetarily, Poetry Out Loud is funded by The Ramsey Education Foundation and is also sponsored by the Writing Center. The Writing Center serves an important role for many students from essay proof-reading to SAT help. Mrs. Rodriguez has been given the opportunity to advise over the Writing Center after Mrs. Altiero ran it for several years.
The room is equipped with computers and work space to allow students to collaborate and focus on their assignments. Mrs. Rodriguez is always willing to provide extra help on essays, research papers, or other writing projects. The Writing Center is open to every student during lunch periods and selected time blocks during the day – schedule is posted on the door and in the library. The main objective of the center is “to provide individualized instruction,” according to Mrs. Rodriguez. Also, she stated that “we really encourage
collaboration, innovation and creativity.” The Writing Center also provides students opportunities to showcase their writing by hosting monthly contests and offering classes. More information can be found on the twitter page @rhswritingctr.