Archive for March 22nd, 2020

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Poetry Out Loud

March 22, 2020

Before the virus 

The Poetry Out Loud (POL) Maine State Finals he state finals took place at the Waterville Opera House on March 2. The following ten high school students proudly took their places after excelling at the classroom, school and regional level. If you click on their names you can hear parts of an interview and the student reciting.

Northern Maine Regional Champions

Southern Maine Regional Champions

Ella Shaffer, grade 10, Rangeley Lakes Regional School photo by Kate Philbrick, Sun Journal

At the time the students, their families and schools understood that one student would be selected to represent Maine at the POL National Finals. Each student was prepared to recite three poems. At the end of round two five state finalists were selected to recite their third poem from which one is the runner-up and one is the state champ. Grade 10 student from Rangeley Lakes Regional School Ella Shaffer was named the 2020 State Champ and Maine’s representative to travel to Washington, D.C. at the end of April. Ella did an amazing job reciting  “Sestina: Like” by A.E. Stallings, “I Eat Breakfast to Begin the Day” by Zubair Ahmed, “No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved” by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib.

Traditionally a school bus from Rangeley travels to the POL state finals with a group of students and their teachers to support their school representative and also participate as audience members. English teacher Tim Straub has been a huge supporter of his students and the program. Along with Sonja Johnson, art teacher who is amazing! Everyone can benefit from the experience. This year was no exception but it was the first time Rangeley traveled home with the POL State Champ. Those of us who live in a small town in Maine know how exciting this news was for the residents in Rangeley and you can see in the video (below) what that looked like to Ella’s dad on the night of March 3 returning to town. (Get out your tissues).

Sadly the Corona virus (COVID-19) has robbed Ella and her school community the opportunity to travel to D.C. at the end of April for the national event. Even though the national event has been canceled it doesn’t remove the pride that this community has for Ella! I’m sure her three poems will be with her everywhere she travels during her lifetime.

If your high school doesn’t participate in the Poetry Out Loud program you can learn more at the National Poetry Out Loud website. Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission.

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