Virgin Islands Montessori and Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) hosted the Poetry Out Loud competition on Wednesday, Feb. 28. Under the direction of Melissa Bump, a Middle Years Program English Language and Literature teacher, five high school students participated in the annual poetry competition. They all had hopes of winning and moving on to the territory-wide competition scheduled for March 10. Contestants included: Karen Gaurlioff (1st place), Caroline Gaskin (2nd place), Adia Thomas (3rd place), Tiffany Connor and Trevelle Connor.
Judged by attorney Carl Williams (a parent of a CASA student), Monife Stout (public relations director for East End Medical Clinic) and Barbara Young (a retired English teacher and professional photographer), students had to recite two poems for not only the judges but their teachers, parents and peers.
“This is the eleventh year for Poetry Out Loud in the territory,” said Bump. “The competition began in 2006. I fell in love with the competition when teaching at Kean and was very happy to take over the coordination at VIMSIA after starting to teach here.”
Poetry Out Loud provides a great opportunity for students to truly connect with poetry through memorization and internalization of the poet’s message. It is also a great opportunity for students to gain public speaking experience.
The winner of the territory competition will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., in April to compete in the national competition. There are numerous award levels in D.C., the most impressive being the $20,000 awarded to the national champion. In addition to the financial benefit, Poetry Out Loud opens fantastic doors for the winner. Some national champions have even performed at the White House.