Sunday, March 11, 2007

Poetry Out Loud

Thank you Blaine, Bradley, Heidi, Amanda, Grace, Jazzmin, Chelsea, Madison, Sarah, Marin, Stephanie and Lauren for making my job entertaining Friday night (I listed all those names from memory, isn't that impressive? Of course, that means I could have spelled your name wrong. Oops, I did. Sorry, Jazzmine). The drawings on the white board were done by the lovely Stephanie White from Jordan High School. These are some of the most responsible and respectful high schoolers I've ever met. You can bet that you'll see a lot of these kids winning more awards and accolades in the years to come. They're all bound for greatness.

This was my first Poetry Out Loud and I had a blast! It was the second annual here in Utah. I wish we had this when I was in high school. Not that I would have been brave enough to recite a poem in front of a huge crowd. You have to have a knack for drama. As soon as Blaine (the first contestant) stood up and recited "A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General" in a British accent, I knew I was in for a good time.

I have to say, I was glad that after the first round, the judges narrowed it down to six instead of four. I tried to pick who I thought would be in the final four, but it was really hard. Here's a picture of the judges deliberating over their difficult decisions.

I was in the "Green Room" most of the time with the students when they weren't onstage. Here is some video of them after the first round. I asked them how they think they did.

They started to stress too much about all the things they did wrong so I had them play some Pictionary on the board while we waited for the judges' decision. I wish I had a photo of one of the kids' rendition of a "hobo". It was pretty awesome.

I have to say, I predicted the final three. It was kind of funny, when the final three were announced after the second round, my brother (the videographer) and I were both in the back watching. As soon as Margaret said "Amanda Fujiki" Carter and I both made a little "yes" fist. I really wanted her to make it to the final round. I guess Carter did too. For some reason, the poem she recited in Round 2 had me captivated like none of the others. It was called "Scary Movies" by Kim Addonizio, and you can read it by clicking here. Of course it's not the same as having Amanda recite it. I was rooting for Madison too and of course Grace who could really command the stage (she's the one in the video who says she has the voice of a 34 year-old man). Amanda had a quieter presence, but there was something subtle and intriguing about her performances.

A blonde man stood in the back by me while we waited for the judges to announce the final three. He leaned over to me and asked who I thought was going to make it. I said it was really hard to say, but I really liked Amanda in the second round. He replied, "I'm glad you said that, because she's mine. Well, she's not my kid, she's my student." And when Margaret said, "Our state finalist is Amanda Fujiki" that guy was the proudest teacher I had ever seen. He had his hand over his mouth and kept repeating, "I can't believe it. I can't believe it." He was proud beyond belief. He kept thanking me for giving them this opportunity and how great this is for students to stimulate their interest in poetry.

Of course, I had very little to do with Friday night, but I loved my job that day. Congratulations Amanda! She's on the far right in the group photo at the top by the way. You really were great. You did Meridian School proud. Good luck in Washington, D.C.!


abel said...

Sounds fun. I wish they would have had then when I was in high school too.

Ilene said...

You know, I wish they would have had something like that in high school but really, would my high school self ever go to such an event? Probably not because I would figure it would be for the "drama crowd" and wouldn't consider going. Too bad because while I would NEVER be brave enough to participate, I think I would have appreciated the poetry and talent displayed. Ah, I was such a dork. Not any more, of course.