Howard 2nd at regional Poetry Out Loud
Seventeen high schoolers from around the area gathered to prove their poetry prowess this week.
The prose of poets such as William Blake, Shakespeare, and Sara Teasdale filled the air as students recited the poems from memory, interpreting the words through variations in their voice, during the regional competition for Poetry Out Loud (POL) in Columbus last Tuesday.
After two rounds the winners were announced, and for the second year in a row, Red Lodge’s Travis McKenney won the southeastern region.
Columbus junior Jessly Howard finished in second place, and Cougar freshman Izzy Carlson was third. Junior Kaleigh Baker, also from Columbus, finished in fourth.
Two Rapelje students were also finalists. Sophomore Lily Knoll finished in fifth place, and freshman Abby Schladweiler earned sixth place.
The top six competitors from the region have earned a place in the state competition on March 3 in Helena. Columbus junior Kolton Gladney, the seventh place competitor, will be the region’s alternate.
The students attending state will have to prepare one more poem, as the state competition will have three rounds. The state-wide winner will advance to the national finals in Washington, D.C., in April.
In Tuesday’s competition, students from Rapelje, Columbus, Reed Point, and Red Lodge participated. Lodge Grass students came to observe, so the school would be prepared to compete next year.
Also in attendance were two former Montana poet laureates – Henry Real Bird and Tami Haaland.
According to the organization’s website, “Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.”
POL is more than simply memorizing poems, though. The website explains how “this program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.”
More than three million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 schools throughout the United States and its territories participate in POL, according to the website.
Students choose poems to memorize from a specific POL anthology, then they present them at a variety of levels.
First come classroom competitions, followed by school-wide events. Students can then advance to regional and state competitions. The national finals is the last, most difficult, step to reach.