The seventh annual Poetry Out Loud competition for Liberty Bell High School and Independent Learning Center students was held on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp.
Cymone VanMarter from Liberty Bell and Chloe Blum from the ILC secured first place to move on to the regional competition in Spokane on February 1st. Stella Gitchos was second and Greta Laesch came in third for Liberty Bell and Rivers Leeman was the second place finisher for the ILC.
For the past six years, the Methow Valley has sponsored a robust Poetry Out Loud competition through a collaboration between Methow Arts, Public School Funding Alliance, and the Methow Valley School District. Each December, local high school students compete for slots at local, regional, and state POL competitions. 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.
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 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. Poetry coaches tutor students throughout the duration of the competition as students advance to the next level.
The winner of the local competition advances to the Eastern Washington Regional Poetry Out Loud contest in Spokane, and have a chance to make it to the state championship. The Washington state champion will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C.
Beginning with Tom Zbyszewski in 2013, it’s been five times in the past six years that a Liberty Bell student has won one of two top slots at the regional competition and advanced to the state event. Regional winners that have followed Tom Zbyszewski have included: Liam Daily (2014), Claire Waichler (2015), Lilly Cooley (2016), Mia Stratman (2017), and Mackenzie Woodworth (2018).
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Kelly Grayum as the organizer and MC, Scott Barber for his talented guitar playing, and Methow Arts for supporting the event. We’d also like to thank the volunteers who had the very tough task of judging the competition. It was truly a lovely evening of poetry!