Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition

XHS Senior Heads to State Poetry Out Loud Competition
Posted on 02/14/2023
Congratulations to Senior Hiba Loukssi for her first place finish in the West Central Ohio Regional Finals for Poetry Out Loud! The competition took place at Edison State Community College on February 9, and she will advance to the state finals in Columbus on March 10. 

This annual competition "encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation" with the goal of improving public speaking skills, building self-confidence, and learning about "literary heritage and contemporary life".

During her winning performance, Hiba recited "Author's Prayer" by Ilya Kaminsky and "There Are Birds Here" by Jamaal May. For the state contest, Hiba must recite a third poem in addition to these two. To prepare, Hiba stayed after school for multiple days to practice reciting her poems and work on the interpretation. Even up to the week before the regional contest, Hiba was still discovering new meaning and connections to her poems. 

Jennifer Burgess, English teacher at Xenia High School who attended the competition, noted that Hiba's performance at regionals seemed to connect with everyone in the audience.  "Once she made a personal connection with the poems, everything clicked, and the transformation was magical!" 

This is the third year that Xenia High School has participated in Poetry Out Loud. The local contest is held annually in January and is open to anyone in the school (all students in grades 9-12), but few students have taken the opportunity to participate. Hiba has been the school champion for the last three years, and Erin Kelly was the runner-up in this year's contest. 

During the process of analyzing, memorizing, and interpreting poetry, students build skills such as improved writing and analytical ability that benefit them in courses ranging from English Languag Arts to history and science. Poetry Out Loud aligns with Common Core and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) standards, and all materials are provided for free through the Ohio Arts Council.

At the state competition in March, top-scoring participants receive cash prizes and money for their school library, and the first place winner moves on to the national championship in Washington, DC in May. The national first place cash prize is $20,000. 

📷 Jennifer Burgess