Oxford High School is home to many sports and extracurricular activities- and not all of them are athletic. This February, students at Oxford High School will be participating in the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation contest.
The competition, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, was created to encourage young adults to learn about and develop an interest in poetry. The competition runs on a tiered structure, with students competing first with their English classes, and then moving on to the school-wide competition (held this year on Feb. 7 at the high school). The first-place winner from the school competition gets to move on to the state level contest on March 12 at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. Ultimately, students from each state will compete with one another at Washington D.C in the National Finals. An award of $20,000 is given to the national champion.
Monetary rewards aside, however, the competition provides a valuable source of experience to high school students. Students who participate in the event learn to memorize their poems and develop an understanding of the piece. In the competition, they will be judged on their physical presence, clarity of speech, dramatization, understanding of the piece, and overall performance- skills which are widely applicable even outside the sphere of poetry.
The Poetry Out Loud competition has been growing since it first began in 2005. The event now includes hundreds of thousands of students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S Virgin Islands, and Poetry Rico. This rise in participation may be due to the wonderful experience it presents to students. Martha Riedel, an English teacher at Oxford High School, says “Reciting poetry is a little about speaking and a little about performing: Mostly, it’s about letting the world know what’s ‘important to you.”
The above news release was submitted by Oxford High School student Samantha Ramsay, who is organizing the contest as part of her Senior Capstone Project.