Poetry Out Loud winner crowned at West Orange High School

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Bianca Trinidad was named the winner of the 11th annual Poetry Out Loud competition at West Orange High School on Jan. 4, and Elijah Chilton was named runner-up, with only two points separating the two seniors.

Trinidad recited “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain,” by Emily Dickinson, and “Dear Reader,” by Rita Mae Reese, to capture the win. Chilton recited “To Elsie,” by William Carlos Williams, and “Mezzo Cammin,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Chilton was last year’s Poetry Out Loud winner.

The vision of Poetry Out Loud is described as “a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.” The program was emceed by Escriptus advisers and English language arts teachers Molly Wachtel and Mindy Harvat.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, which is organized into local, regional, state and national competitions.

Trinidad will represent West Orange High School at the regional competition, to be held at South Orange Performing Arts Center on Feb. 8.

This year, 114 West Orange High School students participated in the process to determine the finalists in the competition. Each finalist had to memorize two poems, one a pre-20th-century work and the other fewer than 25 lines. Judges scored the finalists on several criteria, including accuracy of memorization, physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and overall performance.

This year’s finalists were ninth-graders Rachel Favetta, Darlene Folas, Ashlea Hume and Izzy Soto Jr.; 10th-graders Orianna Carter and Daniella Rodriguez; 11th-graders Anna Favetta and Juaquin Goodbar; and 12th-graders Trinidad, Chilton, Sophia Adelson and Janiya Peters.

William Paterson University English professor David Borkowski; Liberty Middle School Assistant Principal Michelle Martino; 6-12 ELA supervisor Elizabeth Veneziano; former Escriptus adviser and technology integration specialist Tynia Thomassie; and 2015 WOHS Poetry Out Loud winner Amber McCleese served as judges for the 2017 Poetry Out Loud competition.

Photos Courtesy of WOSD