Ruka Truong also contributed to this article.

As the new year started off Malden High hosted its annual Poetry Out Loud (POL) semi-finals. Eight people competed in a recitation competition. Only two people from each period could move forward to the finals. 

The Poetry Out Loud Finals took place January 27th. Malden High School's POL competition is the largest in the state. Jessica Li won the competition this year as a 9th grader.

During the finals are two student rounds where the students recite two poems. Specific staff members pick the winners of each competition. This year, those judges were Mrs. Marquez, the Accuracy Judge; Ms. Brookes, the Recitation Judge; Ms. Mulkern, Recitation Judge; and Ms. Clapp, the Tabulation Judge.

In first place from the Period 2 semi-finals was Alyssa Littlejohn, who performed “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood, and second place winner, Kiley Fray, who performed “The Albatross” by Kate Bass. 

Alyssa Littlejohn said that, ¨it is such an honor to have won first place, both in my class competition and in the semi-finals.¨ She even exclaimed that, ¨I definitely gained more confidence, especially speaking in front of a group of people I'm not used to speaking in front of as much.¨ She has a background in performing music and ¨it was definitely a different experience.¨

,¨I think they did amazing, especially after two years of not being at school,¨ accuracy judge Yaharia Marquez explained.

There were thirteen finalists in the student competition. Each student would go up, state their name, the name and author of the poem and then recited the poems while teacher Mrs. Marquez did an accuracy check. After the student was done reciting their poems, they would give the judges time to grade the student on how well it was recited and then move on to the next student. The first round of recitations took about forty minutes, starting off with Alyssa Littlejohn, after Ryan Coggswell; once the last student was done, Mrs. Marquez called the staff on stage for the teacher round of POL. 

Five staff members participated in POL to show solidarity to students, knowing how hard it is having to stand up in front of people reciting something. To start the teacher round, Principal Mr. Mastrangelo performed first, followed by Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Mauser, Mr. Pitnof, Mr. Charles and Ms. Clapp. Once the staff was done reciting their poems, the students participating in Poetry Out Loud voted on their favorite staff recitation. Ms. Clapp was announced as the winner for the staff round and her name was added onto the David Holland award. 

Lastly, the final round of the Student Poetry Out Loud, they went in reverse order so starting the second round was Ryan Coggswell and it went on faster from there. Again, the judges graded the students on their performance. By the end of the second round, the judges turned in their papers and Mrs. Clapp totaled up the students' scores. Mrs. Marquez announced the third through first place winners. In third place was sophomore Ryan Cogswell, in second place was junior Jadelini Mora and in first place was freshman reporter for the Blue and Gold Jessica Li. 


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