Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Poets know it

Last night I had the uberpleasure of judging the first-ever Poetry Out Loud competition at Saline High School. The program is under the umbrella of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and was coordinated at SHS by amazing English and Language Arts teachers, Shelly Yelsma and Carolyn Kreple. (My daughter has had the pleasure of learning from both these outstanding teachers who inspired her to read and write and dream. Thanks, ladies!)

From left are SHS Poetry Out Loud winners, Dillon Burns, Kelsey Tillman and Megan Anthony. Way to go, superstars.
32 high school students recited a poem, by memory and were judged (by me, school board pres Lisa Slawson, beloved English teacher and x-country coach Mike Smith and SHS asst principal fave Eric Diroff) on six pillars. We listened to each student and judged: physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding and overall performance.

Let me tell you right now. This was a difficult assignment. We listened, watched the interpretation and tried, in a few minutes, to decide if the brave and practiced student was very weak, weak, average, good, excellent or outstanding in each of the categories. I was drained and inspired.

The entrancing Megan Anthony recited "Playing Dead" by Andrew Hudgins and brought down the house. She was awarded $100 as first runner-up, and will go to the state competition. Dillon Burns recited Rudyard Kipling's "The Secret of the Machines" and was awarded sedond runner-up, an alternate to the state comp. He did a smashing job remembering the lengthly poem and was animated in all the right spots. Kelsey Tillman took home the gold for her reading of Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman." She was outstanding. She advances to the state competition and took home one hundred bucks.

Kudos to all the students for getting off their butts and trying something new.



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