Rancho Cotate High School rang in the New Year with another successful Poetry Out Loud competition. Ten competitors passed from the classroom level to the school wide challenge. Isabella Luevano won first place based on her rendition of two modern poems. Kylie Perry’s presentation of “The Albatross” and “War Widow” earned her a close second. Interpretations of classics “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and “Acquainted with the Night” earned Charlie Gomez third place.
For the past decade, Rancho Cotate has participated in the national Poetry Out Loud program. English teacher Kirk Amos began the program and last year Robin Prince, another English teacher, continued it. The competition begins in the classroom, advances to a school-wide level, then to a regional or state challenge and culminates in the National Finals.
Poetry Out Loud encourages students to study well-known poetry, especially through memorizing and reciting these great works. Students gain public speaking skills, become self-confident and understand more about literature from the past and the present.
Isabella Luevano, a first-time participant, demonstrated poise and executed dramatic skills as she presented Sonoma County’s Dana Gioia’s fine poem, “Becoming a Redwood” in round One. She followed nicely in round two with Eavan Boland’s poignant mother-daughter story, “And Soul.” Isabella’s two recitations were nearly flawless in accuracy and both were highly dramatic.
Isabella, a junior, enthusiastically praised her peers as she was impressed by Kylie Perry’s interpretations and by Charlie Gomez’s stage presence. Isabella likes memorizing poetry and creating oral interpretations. She created her own pauses and pacing for both poems. Dramatizing difficulties were increased because neither poem had standard meter or rhyme scheme.
Both of Isabella’s poems meant something to her own development.“Becoming a Redwood” dealt with personal anxiety and passage to a stronger soul. “And Soul” offered a relationship that she could relate to. The benefit of reciting and presenting poetry to a large group is building self-confidence. Isabella asserted, “Poetry Out Loud helps you get over your stage fright. It helps prepare you for a job interview. It helps you get over the jitters.”
Expect to see Isabella not only compete at the county level but also present her award winning recitations to the entire school population of fifteen hundred students, teachers and staff. No doubt she will have conquered her jitters by the time she is finished.