Parkwood High School in Monroe held it’s first Poetry Slam eight years ago. Since then it has grown in popularity.
The schoolwide event is held twice a year. Students write poems and then present them aloud. Subject and style of the poem is the student’s choice, subject to school guidelines.
The poems cannot be longer than three minutes, and usually fall in the dramatic or comedic category.
The performance poetry contest begins a few days before the finals with the students reading their poems to a group of peers, who then judge them based on criteria given by teachers. The winners advance to a semifinals round, where a panel of judges made up of teachers and administrators use the poetry contest scoring rubric to select the 20 finalists.
The criteria include ideas and content, poise and body language, and voice. Students can enter the contest as a solo, or part of a group.
This year’s finals were held Oct. 24. The winners of the Fall Poetry Slam are:
• Dramatic Winner, Gabby Hubert.
• Dramatic Runner Up, Mia Dessi.
• Comedic Winner, Lauren Brown, Ryan McManus, and Terrell Williams.
• Comedic Runner Up, Luke Jacumin.
The winners received two movie tickets and the experience of a lifetime.
English teacher, Christian Giudice, directed the fall event.
“The contest really galvanizes the school and brings the students together,” Giudice said. “Seeing a student who hasn’t spoken all year get up and speak in front of a crowd is especially gratifying.”
Giudice, also an author, is a graduate of Villanova University. He obtained his MBA in journalism from Temple University.
All English teachers are involved in helping their students prepare for the contest. Students often select topics that mean something to them personally, and then find that having to read these intimate thoughts aloud can be challenging.
“We work very hard on the presentation part,” teacher Julie Johnson said.
By the end of the school year, each student has had a chance to participate.
“You’d think this contest would only appeal to nerds,” said junior Gabby Hubert, 16, “but everyone applies themselves.”