By JULIA PARKER
December was once a festive month where Malden High School students looked forward to the long- awaited vacation, but before they can start to celebrate, all students from grades 9 to 12 had to perform one poem in front of their class for Poetry Out Loud (POL).
When teachers mention POL for the first time of the year, students already know what to expect. Memorizing poems, practicing them, and reciting them for days might turn into weeks, and for some, into months. Running through the familiar POL website, students choose the best poem for them out of hundreds, and begin their path to another year of POL.
Poetry Out Loud was recently named a national competition, where high school students across the United States memorize and recite a poem to various audiences. Malden High School began this tradition only years ago, and each and every student has been doing it since.
Although several high schools across the nation participate in POL, MHS is the only one that proudly requires all students to participate. The performances vary, but all students have the opportunity to “master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage” through reciting poetry, as stated by the POL website.
Students who are typically quiet have the chance to learn how to express themselves through words that carry a deeper meaning. Peers, as well as teachers, may be surprised at the potential one can have within the recitation of their poem.
Many teachers find the POL competition important towards the progress of the student’s academic career. Although it does not seem evident at first, POL is a way for a student to bring out their inner performer
The first POL performances of 2013-2014 were done just at the beginning of December. Poems are chosen after individual requirements are given by each teacher. After weeks of preparation, students can flaunt their talent to the class, and maybe move on to the semi- finals, where each class winner competes against other winner from the same period in the Jenkins auditorium. From there, two students from each period competition, which add up to a total of 14, move forward to the school finals, held on Jan. 28, 2014. Here, one student will move on to regionals.
While sophomores and beyond have been through the process of Poetry Out Loud before, this is completely new to the freshmen. Junior Heresa Guerrier advises future performers “to have fun while [they] are performing; [she thinks] that is key to a great performance!”Although many students are nervous before their recitation, a lot of them learn key skills that are important for their futures. Some learn more about themselves through the meaning behind their poems, which is what makes POL such a great experience for high school students.