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Poetry Out Loud brings verse to Van Buren school

VAN BUREN, Maine — Despite less than ideal weather conditions, SAD 24 opened their auditorium on Jan. 24 for the Poetry Out Loud competition, where 11 students tackled the world of poetry.

The program, organized by English teacher Kristin Albert and her 11 grade 9-12 students, is affiliated with the nationally acclaimed Poetry Out Loud program,

Albert was out on maternity leave so the class missed the registration deadline for this year’s regional competition in February. But when she returned, the teacher said her students requested an in-school competition.

The Poetry Out Loud competition “helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life,” according to the organization’s website at

For the hourlong competition, the students chose works from the website’s database of poems, according to Albert; they could only select from this list.

“The students who participated in this event never cease to amaze me at their willingness and ability to master the art of public speaking, which research proves ranks high as most people’s greatest fear,” Albert said. “They conquered their nerves and I did not have to prompt a single competitor.”

Four of the five judges were able to make it, according to Albert. The judges used a standard judging rubric, which according to the Poetry Out Loud website ranks participants on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, understanding of the poem and overall performance.

Kylie Levesque took first place for her poem, “What the Oracle Said”; Lauren Headley came in second with “Domestic Situation”; and Julia Berube captured third for “Propositions.”

“It is an honor for me to have won Poetry Out Loud, especially with a poem that has such strong personal ties,” first place winner Levesque said. “I hope to one day be able to bring that very same poem to Regionals!”

Albert said that she sees this event being added to the events that take place at MSAD 24 every year.

“We have begun a tradition,” she said.

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