Poetry went from the printed word to the dramatic performance when 23 students at Kennedy participated in the annual Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest on Jan. 13. Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts that encourages the study of great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.
Kennedy students competed in their individual English classes, with winners progressing to the schoolwide competition, under the guidance of English Department Chair Kim Serpe. Kennedy Dean Jon Dell’Olio emceed the event.
Gathered in teacher Jeanette Pincus’ vocal room, the students recited poems that ranged in style and period, from Aphra Behn to Langston Hughes and John Berryman.
The panel of judges, comprised of English teachers at Kennedy, scored each student individually on a rubric of criteria. The judges crowned sophomore Stephanie Person as the first-place winner for her recitation of Sylvia Path’s “The Applicant.” Second place went to junior Rachel Mashal for her recitation of Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird.” Third place was awarded to sophomore Rebecca Stekol for her recitation of Ilya Kaminsky’s “Author’s Prayer.”
Person and Mashal will move on to the Long Island Finals of Poetry Out Loud at Stony Brook University on Feb. 26.
The state competition will follow the Long Island Finals and, ultimately, the national finals in Washington, D.C. The Poetry Out Loud competition is held in all three high schools in the district.