Mackenzie Woodworth, a Liberty Bell High School senior, represented the Methow Valley at the Washington State Poetry Out Loud Regional and State Championships in grand fashion.
Mackenzie won the sixth annual Poetry Out Loud competition for Liberty Bell High School and Independent Learning Center students at The Merc Playhouse in December, reciting “I Go Back to May 1937?” By Sharon Olds and “Memory as a Hearing Aid” by Tony Hoagland. She then won the Eastern Regional Championships in Spokane on February 1. Following her stellar performance at the Regional Finals, Mackenzie went on to place in the top five finalists at the State Championships.
For the past five years, the Methow Valley has sponsored a robust Poetry Out Loud competition. Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national memorization and recitation contest that helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Each winter, local high school students compete for slots at local, regional, and state POL competitions.
Created in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud gives students an opportunity to work with recitation coaches such as Thome George and Rod Molzahn, who help students select poems from the anthology of allowed poems, provide them with structure for memorization, and coach them on performance skills such as projection, pacing, emphasis, and movement. If funding allows, the poetry coaches continue to tutor students throughout the duration of the competitions, as long as students are advancing to the next level.
Beginning with Tom Zbyszewski in 2013, five times a Liberty Bell student has won one of two top slots at the regional competition and advanced to the state event; regional winners after Zbyszewski were Liam Daily (2014), Claire Waichler (2015), Lilly Cooley (2016), Mia Stratman (2017), and now Mackenzie Woodworth (2018).
The winner of the state competition advances to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C., along with state winners from around the country and US Territories.