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2019 Poetry Out Loud recitation contest

Filed in Archive, BCHS, District, Student Spotlight by on January 9, 2019

group of students pose for photo

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, more than two dozen BCHS students extended their day late into the afternoon for the chance to represent the school in the national Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. It was the second year in a row Bethlehem hosted the contest, which encourages students to develop an appreciation of poetry and learn more about poets and their works through memorization and recitation. 

The two top Bethlehem finishers will move on to represent BCHS at the regional Poetry Out Loud competition to be held at the Bulmer Telecommunications Center at Hudson Valley Community College on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.

They are:

  • Mackenzie Townsend (Gr. 11), who finished first with a recitation of “The Properly Scholarly Attitude by Adelaide Crapsey in the final round of competition; and
  • Elizabeth Hancox (Gr. 10), who was first runner-up. Elizabeth recited “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain by Emily Dickinson.

The Bethlehem Poetry Out Loud event was introduced in 2018 by English teacher Andrew Rickert. Rickert served on the judging panel of this year’s afterschool competition, along with a handful of his high school colleagues. The group used a contest rubric to score each student’s recitation on several factors including: accuracy, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, and evidence of understanding. The other judges included ELA supervisor Andy Baker, teachers Elizabeth Edgar, Trish Piccini and Library Media Specialist Justine Nigro. English teacher Jack Rightmyer served as Master of Ceremonies. 

All 14 contestants were required to choose two poems to memorize and recite. They each recited one of the poems and after the first round, the judges narrowed the field to five semi-finalists who recited a second. 

“It was such a close competition this year,” said Rickert, who said Poetry Out Loud is intended to get more students interested in poetry while helping them gain public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. “Only one point separated our first runner-up from the three other three semifinalists.”

This year’s BC Poetry Out Loud participants, and the poems they prepared, are listed below:

  • Ivy Newton, 12th grade (“I am trying to break your heart” and “Jaguar”)

  • Faith Adamczyk, 11th grade (“Quite Frankly” and “Abandoned Farmhouse”)

  • Nicole Cintron Ortiz, 9th grade (“Earth, You Have Returned to Me” and “A Poison Tree” )

  • Matthew Connolly, 9th grade (“The Conqueror Worm” and “Hymn to God, My God, in Sickness”)

  • Elizabeth Hancox, 10th grade (“On Monsieur’s Departure” and “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”) – Runner-Up

  • Cali Knox, 10th grade (“Barter” and “Ars Poetica”)

  • Dwight Ludington, 11th grade (“American Soldier” and “The Road Not Taken”)

  • Sarah Marshall, 12th grade (“Very Large Moth” and “Sugar Dada”) – Semi-finalist 

  • Regan Murphy, 11th grade (“Y2K” and “Truth Serum”)

  • Lucas Ruud, 11th grade (“The Tables Turned” and “The Last Laugh”) – Semi-finalist

  • Nya Santeliz, 10th grade (“Fairy Tale Logic” and “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls”) – Semi-finalist

  • Jack Sossner, 12th grade (“The Arrow and the Song” and “After the Disaster”)

  • Mackenzie Townsend, 11th grade (“a song in the front yard” and “The Properly Scholarly Attitude”) – 2019 Champion

  • Gillian Roeder, 11th grade (“Elegy on Toy Piano” and “Self Portrait”)

(Special thank you to senior Zephan Conway for managing sound during the poetry competition.)

The winners from next month’s regional competition at HVCC, which will feature students from several Capital Region school districts, will move on to a state competition in March. State champions from all over the country will then convene in Washington DC in April for a national recitation competition. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored jointly by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

Good luck to Mackenzie and Elizabeth at regionals. Congratulations to all of our Poetry Out Loud competitors! View photo album on the district’s Facebook page.