Everest Academy in Lemont recently held its Annual Poetry Contest in which all students, kindergarten through eighth grade participated. Students were required to present within their classrooms an oral interpretation of their choice that was appropriate to or above their grade level. Two students were then chosen from each class to compete in front of parents, peers faculty and staff and a panel of judges at the Annual Poetry Contest.
Poems chosen were from a variety of classical and contemporary selections penned by Robert Frost, Roald Dahl, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allen Poe, Shel Silverstein and others. All came to life as the Everest students used their tone, volume, inflection and gestures to transport their audience from the Everest Academy stage to a several different settings of place and time.
The students are excited to participate in the poetry contest because they choose poems that resonate with them. They look for a poem that speaks to them and that has personal meaning for them. This makes it easier to memorize the poem and to deliver it with confidence and conviction. Thea Latak, who took first place for first grade, presented Just One which held special meaning to her and really made her imagination grow as she memorized the poem. Talia Scoville, who won first place for second grade and delivered The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, thoroughly enjoyed her poem. She could barely keep her excitement in before reciting her poem in front of family, friends, teachers, peers, and judges. Though it was hard work to memorize and recite the poems, students practiced each in their own way. Talia spoke about the “Memory Palace” she created as she worked on different paragraphs in different rooms in her home.
Challenged with the difficult task of determining who would be the winners, the panel of judges consisted of Ms. Mary Inman from the Lemont Public Library; Ms. Faye Predny, a retired High School English teacher; Ms. Nichole DeRoche, a fifth grade teacher at Everest Academy; Mrs. Catherine Rowe, a middle school language arts teacher at Everest Academy; and Mr. Robert Gath, a physical education teacher at Everest Academy. The judges were impressed from the wee little kindergarteners to the eighth graders. Judge, Mary Inman, shared, “I was greatly impressed across the board! From their choice of poem to the way they delivered them, I was very amazed. Many times I would just become completely lost in the beauty of the words as those special kids delivered them ….. Such charisma! Such poise! Such spirit! Such delight and drama! They all had it.” The presentation of the poem as well as the degree of difficulty of the poem for the grade level all played into the final scores.