“I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Senior Amelia Wray, who recently won Longmeadow High School’s Poetry Out Loud school competition. She will compete at the regional semifinal in Springfield on Sunday, March 5 hoping to advance to the state finals in Boston.
Wray is not new to the spotlight, however, as she is a prominent leader and voice in the LHS Music Department. What motivated her to compete? “It’s my senior year and I figured why not?” Wray thinks her strength is based in her music background. She says, “I have to memorize music all the time, so memorizing the poem wouldn’t be that hard.”
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition with school, regional, state, and national levels. Mr. Mark Cormier, English Department Chair, introduced Poetry Out Loud to LHS seven years ago. He says that Wray has a great chance in Springfield. “She’s hardworking and totally understands what kind of preparation is necessary to succeed.”
Back In 2017, Mr. Cormier says that he “was reading the newspaper and saw a story about a kid named Courtney Stewart who attended Springfield’s Central High School and was the two-time Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts champion.” He thought LHS would be a good fit for the competition.
Since then, there have been six winners in the seven years that the competition has started. When asked, Mr Cormier said, “Esther Yen was a repeat champion in 2018 and 2019. She and our first winner in 2017, Bridget Olson, are the two school champions who have advanced to the state finals in Boston. In addition to Amelia, the other school champions have been Samantha Choquette , Trina Morrow , and Aiden Cass .”
When asked about what kind of person is needed to compete and win, Mr. Cormier said, “I don’t think that there’s a ‘type’ that can win Poetry Out Loud, but I do know that our winners are always well-prepared and well-rehearsed… [and] the reciter has to really get inside the poem, inhabit it.”