Malden High School has had both students and teachers reciting for Poetry Out Loud for years, as well as competing around the state. The semi-finalist round took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 8th-9th. The finalists this year are, Freshmen Iloni Taylor and Miranda Cheng, Sophomore Angelina Schoor, Juniors Rebeca Pereira (Head of Local of the Blue and Gold), Paige Pimental, Jenna Vanella, Francesca Reyes, Birukti Tisge, and Felix Li, and Seniors Sydney Addorisio, Gaelle Musasa, Abigail Baptiste, Alexa Murray, and Ramon Aguinaldo.
Robin Doherty, the teacher leader for the English Department, helped organize the event by making sure the judges were there, having the score charts and basically setting up the auditorium which is ”not [her] thing at all but people like [Sean Walsh] and all the English teachers were really helpful.” She enjoys poetry out loud and thinks “recitation and presentation skills are really important for kids to learn .” Doherty likes that “this year [we] have more options because it allows kids to feel a little bit more comfortable for those who might get nervous, like getting in front of the classroom and memorizing, but [they] can definitely still bring their poem to life and show that [they] understand it and the interpretation by allowing [them] to film it or come after school.”
From a teachers point of view, “it is most difficult to get students excited” for poetry out loud because it may not be an enjoyable experience for some students, said Doherty. To help students who felt nervous towards reciting in front of the class, Doherty said she “encourages kids” and gives a lot of “reinforcement.”
Doherty was really excited for the competition mainly because the teachers who have shown the most interest, were the ones who weren’t English teachers and Doherty was “really excited about because [she] thinks it’s important for the kids to also see that it’s not just English teachers who are interested in this.” Some of those teachers who are judging include a math teacher, E.S.L. teacher, and a history teacher.
Humanities Curriculum Director Abbey Dick, who used to be an English teacher, really enjoys poetry out loud and she mentioned that this is “the first school [she] has taught that does this.” Dick was a participant one year where she did the teacher poetry out loud and says “it’s an incredibly cool experience.” She gets nervous but doesn’t mind presenting because it is her current job where she had to present at conferences. Dick also said that as a teacher “[her] goal was to make students feel as comfortable as possible when performing [their] poem...and so [she] thinks a lot of students having choices, makes this activity more possible.”
“[She] was always concerned if students skipped class, or were shaking, or were crying to avoid doing poetry out loud and [she] doesn’t believe that any student should have to go through that for a school assignment” said Dick and so after talking to administrators and adjustment counselors, they decided on giving students more options.
Sophomore, Julian Munoz, unfortunately, did not pass the semi-finals but said “it was still a joyful experience.” The name of his poem is Life and Munoz choose this poem initially because “it gave [him] a good feeling overall with an alternative perspective on “life.” Munoz also said that “[he] was a bit nervous at first but [he] learned to ignore that feeling and just do it, which is why [he] volunteered to go first, to get everything over with.” Munoz recommends that people go first in something compared to last because “it just feels good now having it over with and not having the pressure slowly build up to you.”
Junior Paige Pimental absolutely loves Poetry Out Loud. Last year, Pimental recited the poem Please Don’t by Tony Hoagland and made it to the school finals and made it to third place. She said that “a lot of people are afraid of getting up in front of others but once people realize they can do it, but then they do it, it’s an empowering feeling to be able to just get up there and realize everyone else is doing it with you so even if you do mess up, you’re not alone.” It seems like Pimental is extremely confident about reciting in front of a crowd of people but when asked if she gets nervous, she said “[She’s] terrified, every time [she] gets up there. But once [she] gets up there and starts going, [she] begins to lose the fear because [she] really loves it” and mentioned, “it’s worth it in the end.”
Overall, everyone did an amazing job and we should all look forward to seeing how far this year’s winner goes.