Allen Park High School sophomores took part May 20 in the national Poetry Out Loud competition at the school. First-place winner Erin Asbel (top) performs “For the Young Who Want to” by Marge Piercy. Second-place winner Adam Oest (bottom) performs “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Instead of studying poetry from a book, students at Allen Park High School last week gave poems new life.
Tenth-grade students took part in a poetry recitation competition May 20 as part of “Poetry Out Loud,” which is sponsored nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation.
“It brings poetry alive,” Principal Janet Wasko said of the competition. “I can’t tell you how exciting it was to watch 300 sophomores get excited about the recitation of classical poetry.”
The competition, which was the first of its kind at the school, was the culmination of weeks of preparation in 10th-grade English classes. Students were asked to memorize a poem from an online anthology. They then practiced deliver
ing the poems with varying tone and inflection.
Winners were chosen in each classroom by the students and teacher. Those winners then went on to compete in the schoolwide contest.
Schoolwide winners were Erin Asbel, who came in first place for her reading of “For the Young Who Want to” by Marge Piercy, Adam Oest, who took second place for reading “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Cassie Tretyak, who earned third place for reading “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
Wasko said the contest helps make poetry more understandable and helps students sharpen their memorization and public speaking skills.
She said the contest also helped spark an interest in poetry for many of the students involved by making the subject matter more relatable for them.
“It made it cool to be involved in poetry,” Wasko said. “It was really neat.”
English Department Chairwoman Melanie Beeler said many students were so inspired by the contest that they talked about poetry in the hallways between classes. She said poetry has a number of benefits to students.
“It connects them to humanity and allows them to connect with history,” she said. “They recognize that throughout history we’ve all had similar experiences and can connect to each other through poetry.”