Petersburg High School has been a part of the Poetry Out Loud program for over a decade. It’s a national poetry-performance competition. Over 17,000 schools participate. The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council sponsors Alaska’s program and the statewide competition takes place in Juneau.
To participate, students choose a poem, study and memorize it. They perform the poem first in their English classes. Then, the top performers in each class perform in front of the whole school. From that competition, judges choose the top three to four students. Tim Shumway is an English teacher and the Poetry Out Loud program coordinator.
“And that’s what we did here today,” said Shumway. “We had 13 students who presented a huge range of poems with different tones and different moods and lots of different perspectives. Just a really cool collection of ideas that these students all engaged with. Certainly, it’s something that helps them build confidence, public speaking, and poise. It’s more than just learning about poetry. Poetry is kind of the tool that that allows us to give students this opportunity to, to develop those kinds of other skills that are so important for communication. It also is an opportunity for students that might not, you know, be a basketball player or a baseball player or a wrestler or something else, and is in the public eye a lot to kind of have that moment to to shine. Which is cool.”
Junior Kieran Cabral took first place in Petersburg’s competition last Wednesday
Sophomore Sean Toth placed second, sophomore Martha Midkiff third, and Sophomore Eleanor Kandoll fourth.