MARYSVILLE — It was standing room only in the alcove of the gymnasium at Marysville Getchell High School on Wednesday, Dec. 12, as students thronged the tightly packed space to watch seven of their peers compete in the school finals for the national Poetry Out Loud competition.
The recitations of poetry ranged from A.E. Houseman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” to Mary Howitt’s “The Spider and the Fly” and were judged by a panel consisting of Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, Marysville School District Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller, and MSD Board of Directors Vice President Wendy Fryberg and Board member Peter Lundberg.
Gary Knowlton, the English Department lead for Marysville Getchell High School, explained that this year marked Marysville Getchell’s first participation in the poetry recital contest funded by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowments for the Arts.
“The seven who made it to the school finals were picked as the winners within their classrooms,” Knowlton said.
The Dec. 12 school finals included recitals from Madison Kint, Kendra Nguyen, Jesse Pavilando and Danielle Santos from the Bio-Med Academy, as well as Chloe Chambers and Andrew Wattier from the International School of Communications, it was another Bio-Med student, Braulio Ramos, whose recitals of Lewis Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky” and Rhina P. Espaillat’s “Bilingual/Bilingüe” that Knowlton credited with setting him head and shoulders above his peers.
“Students are judged by categories including accuracy to the text, physical presence, evidence of understanding and overall performance,” Knowlton said. “This doesn’t mean hamming it up. You can’t gesticulate wildly or have any props. The focus has to be on the words. But Braulio earned the highest marks of the seven because he was much more dramatic and confident. If you look at the scores, he was the clear winner in all the categories.”
Ramos spent at least an hour a day reciting his two poems while asking friends to check the text as he was delivering them, to make sure he didn’t miss any of the words. He even checked with Hispanic friends to ensure he was pronouncing the Spanish words correctly.
“It was a challenge to get comfortable with reciting in front of an audience,” Ramos said. “After that, it felt rewarding to be acknowledged for my work.”
Ramos’ win at the Marysville Getchell finals makes him eligible for the regional Poetry Out Loud competition in March, with the winners of that contest proceeding on to the state contest, where they will vie for spots in the nationals.