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Annual Contest has Another Winner

Delaney Smith l Feature Editor

Once every year, there comes a time when all Falcons are required to rhyme.

Poetry Out Loud is an annual competition that requires students to memorize and recite a poem to their classmates. The best of these students were asked to participate in the school-wide competition to determine who will represent Cedar Crest at the regional level.

Out of 11 finalists, three stood out to the judges. Senior Alex Hanley, who came in first and will be advancing to Regionals. Junior and 2022 champion Owen Fischer took second, and sophomore Leah Jaeger took third.

Hanley was runner up for the state competition his sophomore year. This year, he hopes to win states then compete in and do well at the national competition.

“It feels good (to have won),” said Hanley. “I couldn’t compete my junior year because I had Covid but to be back to competing again feels really good.”

The regional competition will be taking place on Wednesday, Feb 8. English teacher Amy Haines has taken over the responsibility of running Poetry Out Loud which was previously led by other members of the English department.

“Alex will be phenomenal,” said Haines. “He is returning to Regionals, and this will be his second time performing. He knows all of his poems, and I am confident that he will do great.”

While competing in Regionals, Hanley will have to recite a total of three poems. The competition takes place virtually, so there will be additional people present to ensure that no cheating occurs. Judges will be grading the performances based on expression, tone, and accuracy.

“It was mostly just a lot of practicing,” said Hanley. “Repeating my poems over and over again until I was sure I could remember them, and I was sure that I could recite them the way I wanted to.”

Because this is his last year, Hanley is going to make the best of this competition and is giving his best wishes to future Poetry Out Loud competitors.

“I think it is important to be confident in what you are doing, but do not take on more than you can handle,” said Hanley. “(For example), don’t memorize poems that are too long if you are not good at memorization.”

Students who wish to advance to the higher levels of Poetry Out Loud in the coming years have big shoes to fill. Fischer and Jaeger plan to push themselves so that they have a shot at making Regionals next year.

“I probably would prepare again the same way I did this year,” said Fischer. “Just call a friend and make them listen to my poem on repeat over and over.”

Memorizing and reciting poetry is not everyone’s favorite, but, for some students, it can be a welcome mental challenge.

“This was my first time doing the final school round, and I feel like I did a pretty good job,” said Jaeger. “I felt like I portrayed my poem very well. I really enjoyed connecting to my poems and being able to tell their stories.”

Earning bonus points is not the only reward that can be received when participating in this competition. Stepping out of a comfort zone to recite a poem can be beneficial for many students.

“Alex is a very dedicated poet,” said Jaeger. “He does a really good job at portraying his poems with emotion. He inspires me to be a better poet myself.”

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