The Poetry Out Loud semi-finals held on January 4th & 5th were intense with last year's tied second-place place winners, senior Makeila Scott and sophomore Thomas Conti, making a reappearance. This is a contest held at a school-wide level allowing students from 9th through 12th grade to recite a poem of their choice from the official POL website. 

This is just the semi-finals and the 14 winners of this round move onto the school-wide finals where one student will be selected to represent Malden High School at a regional level from March 2nd-4th. Then the winner of the statewide level will advance to the national competition in Washington D.C. with a chance of winning $20,000. 

This is a competition that thousands of schools participate in nationwide, however here at Malden High School, the semi-finals take place after the classroom competitions where one person is selected from each English class. 

Every student has one to two weeks to select and prepare a poem for their class competition. During those two weeks, they get help from their English teachers whether it is poem analysis to help the students better understand what they will be presenting or strategies to help strengthen their skills. They then will present the same poem in the semi-finals. 

Standing on the big stage in front of an audience is sometimes very nerve-racking. Freshman Raquel Ferreira, one of the period seven competitors commented, “I was very nervous up there, but I tried as best I could,” showing the effort she had put into preparing herself for this competition. 

Even students who have competed on stage before experienced the same nerves. Sophomore Thomas Conti, last year's second-place semi-final winner, expressed “I definitely felt nervous, more so than last year at least. I had a lot more pressure on me to perform well and having all my classmates in attendance during the semi-finals added onto that a bit.”

Many students chose poems close to their hearts or ones that mean something special to them. They do so because it allows them to either enjoy their poems more or be able to present their poem more impactfully and express the emotion. Senior semi-final winner Makeila Scott expressed “I can feel the emotions… I align very closely with the belief of my poem so it made the recitation process much more enjoyable.” 

After the brave competitors recited their poems, two winners from each period moved on to the finals. The fourteen students ended up being Rashmi KC, Cathen Fontanilla, Samira Borrero, Samantha Cuellar Ruiz, Ryan Coggswell, Oscar Luc, Bruan Memeus, Sean Retotal, Makeila Scott, Taliya Lauture, Thomas Conti, Natalie Keating, Jiaxing Chen, and Addison McWayne.

The finals will be held on January 22nd at 11:20 AM in the Jenkins Auditorium. The competitors will now have to recite two poems, with one needing to be pre-20th century. The winner of that will go on to the state competition, representing Malden High School.

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