Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Poetry Out Loud

Last Saturday (the 8th of March, 2008), I drove to Lansing so I could see the finalists compete in Michigan's Poetry Out Loud contest. I saw fifteen students that day at the Library of Michigan compete for the chance to advance to the national competition that is to be held in Washington, D.C. Teachers and parents were there, and the room had theater-style seats - I'd say there were 200 of them - and a stage. Poet Aurora Harris was there to demonstrate the performance and the recitation of a poem. She performed a poem with great emotional expression, and then recited the same poem without the emotional gravity. The winner of the contest, Charles White, is a student at Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids. His teacher's name is Sarah Scobell. He won $200 in addition to the expenses for his trip to the national competition in D.C. The runner-up, Brian Weber, is a student at Dansville High School; his teacher's name is Pauline Lee. He won $100.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 8, 2008Contact: Scott Hirko, Public Relations Officer, shirko@mihumanities.org, 517-372-0029 ext. 25
Charles White Of Forest Hills Central High School (Grand Rapids) Wins Poetry Out Loud State ChampionshipCharles White to receive $200 and a trip to national finals in Washington, D.C.; Brian Weber of Dansville H.S. takes 2nd place & $100.

(LANSING)-----Charles White of Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids won the 2008 Poetry Out Loud state championship hosted today in Lansing by the Michigan Humanities Council. White bested 13 other contestants from across Michigan to win the title. He will receive a $200 cash award and an all-expenses paid trip to the national finals in Washington D.C. from April 28-29, 2008. Forest Hills Central High School will also receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Brian Weber of Dansville High School was named the runner-up in the competition. He will receive $100, along with $200 for the Dansville High School library. The competition was held at the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing.

Each student recited two poems; the top four students competed in a final, championship round. The students competing in the championship round recited a third poem. Each student's performance was judged on six categories: Physical Presence; Voice and Articulation; Appropriateness of Dramatization; Level of Difficulty; Evidence of Understanding; and, Overall Performance. Judges for the competition were: Sheri Jones, WLNS TV-6 news anchor; Chris McElroy, director of production for Michigan Television; and, playwright Sandra Seaton.

The three poems Charles White recited were:
Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes
Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes, by Thomas Gray
My Last Duchess, by Robert Browning

The students competing on Saturday were:

Dansville High School. Student: Brian Weber. Teacher: Pauline Lee (
leepauli@msu.edu, 517-623-6120 ext. 234).
Holt High School. Student: Korrey Hurni. Teacher: Margaret Charette (
mcharette@hpsk12.net, 517-699-6430).
Ionia High School. Student: Kendra Moon. Teacher: Jack Powell (
jlpowell@ionia.k12.mi.us, 616-527-0600 ext. 244).
Owosso Christian School. Student: Kayleena Heslip. Teacher: Betty Melrose (
bbmelrose@verizon.net, 989-723-4510).

Milan High School. Student: Megan Cary. Teacher: Erin Jones (
growley@milan.k12.mi.us, 734-439-5000).
North Branch High School. Student: Kyle Mathei. Teacher: Cindy Stevens (
cstevens@nbbroncos.net, 810-688-3001 ext. 2153).
Osborn High School (Detroit). Student: Angel Lipscomb. Teacher: Monique Guest-Schuh (
momskorner@aol.com, 313-866-0343).
Southeastern High School (Detroit). Student: Deaira Littles. Teacher: Angela Mahone (
amahone2@aol.com, 313-866-4500 ext. 4792).

Alba Public School. Student: Molly Hensley. Teacher: Judith Zimpfer (
zimpferj@gmail.com, 231-584-2000 ext. 125).
Leelanau School (Glen Arbor). Student: Kathryn “Kate” Elizabeth Little. Teacher: Norman Wheeler (
nwheeler@leelanau.org, 231-334-5890).
Mackinac Island High School. Student: Arial Leeper. Teacher: Lance Greenlee (
lgreenlee@eup.k12.mi.us, 906-847-3377).
Houghton High School. Student: Kate Griffith. Teacher: Julie Antilla (
paldrich@houghton.k12.mi.us, 906-482-0450 ext. 1850).

Buchanan High School. Student: Emily Elizabeth Chance. Teacher: Sharon Bitterman (
sbitterm@remc11.k12.mi.us, 269-965-8403).
Forest Hills Central High School (Grand Rapids). Student: Charles White. Teacher: Sarah Scobell (
sscobell@fhps.us, 616-493-8700).

The Poetry Out Loud program, a Michigan Humanities Council partnership program with the National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the Library of Michigan, encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

Since November, Language Arts/English teachers spent at least two or three weeks of class time to prepare students for each school competition. Each school champion advanced to the state competition held earlier today. Poetry Out Loud builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music among youth. Through this program, students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

White will compete at the National Finals, to be held on April 28-29, 2008, in Washington, D.C. Scholarships and school stipends totaling $50,000 will be awarded at the National Finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud national champion.

Previous Michigan Poetry Out Loud winners were Sarah Harris of Holt High School in 2007, and Travis Walter from Holt High School in 2006.

The Michigan Humanities Council, founded in 1974, is the state’s independent, non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For additional information on the Michigan Humanities Council, please visit: www.michiganhumanities.org or call 517-372-7770.

• 400 students in Michigan participated and returned evaluations
• 13 teachers participated and returned evaluations
• Teachers provided 180 hours of their time in addition to 139 hours of classroom time
• Over $100,000 in prizes were awarded to students and schools at state and national levels
Students who returned evaluations reported the following about Poetry Out Loud:
• 94% saw connections between poetry and everyday culture
• 84% understood that poetry can be a powerful tool for expression
• 67% developed their own individual interpretation of poems
• 66% could understand and explain different poetic elements
• 60% understood that poems meet different purposes and were led to explore challenging and unfamiliar poems
• 51% were more confident in their public speaking from reciting poetry
Scott Hirko Public Relations Officer Michigan Humanities Council 119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 3B Lansing, MI 48912-1270 517-372-0029 ext. 25

-- "It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

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