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RHS Senior John Ellard Wins Poetry Out Loud Competition

John Ellard recites “Invitation to Love” at the Poetry Loud competition.

Senior John Ellard took home the first place award at Rockland High School’s annual Poetry Out Loud competition held on Monday, Jan. 28.   His first place finish enables him to move on to the Poetry Out Loud Southeast regional competition in Yarmouth in March.

Ellard was one of six competitors including senior Paige Boggs who took second place, and senior Megan Diver who placed third. Also competing and doing well in their first venture in poetry recitation were freshmen Kathleen Nee, Jillian Mitchell, and Maria Pala.

English Department head, Carol Cahill hosted the event in the lecture hall and congratulated all the students for their poetry recitations.  Each student recited two poems, one in each round of competition. Ellard’s poems included “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou and “Invitation to Love” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.  A list of all the recited poems is below. Students choose their poems from a library provided by the National Poetry Out Loud organization.  Ms. Cahill said, “I was very pleased this year with the selections made by the participants.  The students were very creative in their choices, and I enjoyed hearing several poems that were unfamiliar to me. It’s always exciting to hear a new poem.”

The four judges of the competition included retired RHS English teacher, Amy Woodward who introduced the Poetry Out Loud experience to Rockland in 2006.  The other three judges were Bill Boyer, Paula Bozoian and Jake Carey.The judges evaluated each student’s performance on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and overall performance. Accuracy scorer was RHS English teacher Kristen Walsh.

Ellard will have a month to work on his recitations for the regionals competition.  Rockland has done well in the regionals in the past and several students have competed in the State finals in Boston. Ms. Cahill said that Rockland has competed in 14 consecutive regional competitions, the only school the southeastern district to do so. Out of the fourteen years of POL, RHS has been represented in the state finals nine times. Gabrielle Guarracino made it to the Nationals as the Massachusetts State Champion in 2006 and 2007. The last RHS student to make it to Boston was Genesis Rojas in 2016.

This year’s poems:

John Ellard- “Caged Bird” and “Invitation to Love”

Jillian Mitchell- “Self Portrait” and “Then and Now”

Maria Pala- “Lazy” and “Life”

Kathleen Nee- “Song in a Minor Key,” and “The Ocean”

Megan Diver-“Kubla Khan,” and “Megan Married Herself”

Paige Boggs-“A Rabbit Is King of the Ghosts,” and “Grief”

Poetry Out Loud contestants are from left: Kathleen Nee, Jillian Mitchell, Maria Pala, Megan Diver, Paige Boggs and John Ellard. Veritas photo


For more on the history of Poetry Out Loud at RHS go here.

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