English (Spring 2012)

Poetry Out Loud Competition

Sturgis Charter Public School hosted Poetry Out Loud competitions at Sturgis East and Sturgis West January 31-February 6. Poetry Out Loud contests encourage high school students to learn great poetry through memorization and recitation. 365,000 students from across the country are participating in the contest this year. According to their website, Poetry Out Loud aims to “help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.”

Sturgis students participated first in English classroom competitions. Twenty-seven students were selected from their classes to compete in campus-wide competitions:

14 students at Sturgis East and 13 students at Sturgis West. Each finalist recited two poems at the campus-wide competitions for an opportunity to advance to the state semi-finals of Poetry Out Loud.   The winner at Sturgis East was Sophomore Molly Brennan of Yarmouth who recited “Nymph’s Reply to a Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. The winner at Sturgis West was Freshman Diana Milkey of South Dennis who recited “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley and “Requests for Toy Piano” by Tony Hoagland. Molly Brennan and Diana Milkey went on to represent Sturgis East and Sturgis West at the regional Poetry Out Loud competition on March 4 at the Cultural Center in South Yarmouth.

Sturgis West Finalists:
Mary Burke of Marstons Mills, Sand J Butter of Harwich, Cody Colella of Cotuit, Chris Dumont of Mashpee, Dominic Fucile of Waquoit, Scott Glynn of West Yarmouth, Olivia LaBarge of Dennis, Diana Milkey of South Dennis, Ann-Drea Morris of Hyannis, Ethan Piers of East Sandwich, Ashley Seaman of Hyannis, Christina Wahle of Sandwich,  and Taylor White of Hyannis.

Sturgis East Finalists:
Molly Brennan of Yarmouth, Mike Couto of South Dennis, Julia Harmon of Yarmouthport, Ella Hunt of Centerville, Kristen Kaczmarczyk of Sandwich, Chris Knapp of Harwich,  Hannah McLaughlin of Sandwich, Jenny Ngo of Buzzards Bay, Anna Pannell of Sandwich, Justin Pannell of Sandwich, Lily Paradise of Sandwich, Caitlin Pollard of Cotuit, Laura Sirhal of Centerville, and Meredith Sullivan of Yarmouthport.

For the first time ever, a Sturgis student was selected to move on to the MA State Finals of Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.  And not just one – but two! Congratulations to Molly Brennan of Yarmouth (Sturgis East) and Diana Milkey of South Dennis (Sturgis West). They were joined by three other regional finalists: Chelsea Rivera of New Bedford (Global Learning Charter School), Emma Rogalewski of Falmouth (Falmouth Academy) and Stephanie Igharosa of Randolph (Randolph High School).  These five students were selected to advance to finals because of their strong performances at the regional semifinals on March 4.

Fifteen students from the following regional schools competed at the Cultural Center semifinals:  Avon Middle High School, Barnstable High School, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, Fairhaven High School, Falmouth Academy, Global Learning Charter Public School, Harwich High School, Hingham High School, Old Rochester Regional High School, Provincetown High School, Randolph High School, Rockland High School, Sturgis East Charter Public School, Sturgis West Charter Public School and Whitman Hanson Regional High School.

Lisa Sjostrom, Chatham Middle School Principal, Diana Milkey
and Molly Brennan at Poetry Out Loud Assembly

Diana and Molly were invited by  Lisa Sjostrum, Principal of Chatham Middle School, to perform at their April 26th Poetry Out Loud Assembly.  Diana and Molly did a wonderful job. You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium when they were on stage – no easy feat for a room filled with 200+ middle school students!

The assembly included performances by Chatham Middle School students and teachers. Molly and Diana gave excellent performances at the end of the program as a grand finale.  After their performance, Ms. Sjostrom said she could certainly see how they made it to the state finals of Poetry Out Loud.

This year, more than 20,000 Massachusetts students participated in Poetry Out Loud.  During school competitions across the state, 72 students were chosen to advance to regional semifinals.  Now, twenty-three talented finalists will advance to the state finals on Sunday, March 11, at 9:30 AM in the Old South Meeting House in Boston, site of the historic meeting of colonists that led to the Boston Tea Party and a continued haven of free speech today. The competition is free and open to the public.

The winner of the Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud competition will be given an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals taking place May 13-15. The national winner will receive a $20,000 college scholarship and their high school will be given a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

“The Massachusetts semi-final and state finals are hosted by the Huntington Theatre Company. Prior to these competitions, Huntington sets up classroom and school-wide competitions to help cultivate the students’ skills. The process has transformed individuals as well as entire schools.” (http://masspoetry.org)

Sturgis East competition was coordinated this year by English teacher Alicia Watts and librarian Kate Dunigan-AtLee. Sturgis West competition was coordinated this year by English teacher Geneva Robinson. We thank SPA and especially parents Jean Brennan and Sharon Kaczmarczyk for donating refreshments, baked goods, tablecloths, and flowers to make the event truly a celebration of poetry.

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