Poetry Out Loud Is Back

For the second year in a row, NMHS is competing in the national Poetry Out Loud competition and the stakes are getting higher.

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Poetry Out Loud Is Back

Kathleen Ryan, Writer

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New Milford High School’s Second Annual Poetry Out Loud School-Wide Competition will take place on December 4th, 2019. This program is becoming more and more popular every year and, as of last year, has been introduced to New Milford High School. English Teacher Mr. Thomas Kida has run this program for three years at Hasbrouck Heights High School and, along with English teacher Ms. Kellie Lawrence, is continuing the program for the second consecutive year.

Kida explains, “For the second year in a row, New Milford High School will participate in the Poetry Out Loud program. This is a nationally recognized competition that allows students the opportunity to demonstrate the dramatic recitation of amazing poetry from memory for a chance at $50,000 worth of scholarships. Students from all over the state will be looking to win their own school’s competition for a chance to be in their respective regional final. The winners of the regional finals will then participate in the New Jersey State Finals. And the winner from that contest will have the chance at an amazing scholarship at the national level in Washington D.C. in the Spring of 2020.”

The 2019 national finalists gathered in Washington D.C.

Poetry Out Loud is a program in which students across the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands expand their knowledge of the arts and practice public speaking skills through the study and recitation of great poetry. It is a competition between students that begins at a classroom level, then progresses to school-wide, regional, state, and finally a national contest.

According to PoetryOutLoud.org , “Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.” 

Poetry Out Loud not only allows students to practice their study of poetry and the arts, however, it also allows them to build self-confidence and public speaking skills.

“I’m always amazed at how this competition brings out the best in my students,” Kida says. “Many of the best competitors had fears of public speaking or felt awkward about poetry in general. But then, after preparing in class and practicing with their friends, they astonish me as well as themselves. This program lets students view themselves in a way they may have never noticed, and does the same for teachers.”

The program and affiliated activities create a sense of confidence, pride, and honor. It allows them the opportunity to try something new in a setting they may or may not be comfortable with. And for most high school students, this allows them to face the fear or nervousness they may have of public speaking. The recitation of poetry also gives students the opportunity to explore new material and works, and to expand their knowledge.

Amos Koffa (2017 NJ state winner) of Burlington County Institute of Technology, Medford Campus

“Poetry Out Loud brings students out of their shells, out of their comfort zones, and creates in them a sense of pride in doing something novel. It also enforces an in-depth appreciation for the poetic art form, developing a close relationship between student and poem,” explains Ms. Kellie Lawrence, an English teacher an co-coordinator of Poetry Out Loud at New Milford High School.

Classroom competitions for New Milford High School are currently taking place, in which the classroom winners will be competing to move on to the regional contest in February. Students are encouraged to take photos and use the hashtags #POL2020 and #iampoetryoutloud to share their stories and photos of their preparation.

To find out more information about the program, visit the Poetry Out Loud website or visit their social media.