Poetry Contest Results in Two Winners From Sparkman

Poetry Contest Results in Two Winners From Sparkman
Photo Credit: Mrs. Quaife

Sparkman had two winners for the Poetry Out Loud regional competition. Their names being Arianna Paschel and Isabelle Berube. They had the guidance of advisor and teacher Renee Quiafe.

Winning first and third respectively they practiced for the competition beforehand. Their practice was seen in the placements they were awarded. Berube believed in practicing with her papa beforehand. Paschel believed in memorizing the poems.

“At Mrs. Quaife’s suggestion, I attended the POL performance workshop in late January, presented by FLOURISH, a poetry education/performance group based here in Alabama,” Berube said. 

Preparing beforehand is up to the contestants. But preparation is necessary in some way, shape or form to do well in the competition.

“I started preparing around November, so I spent around three months,” Paschel said. “It is possible to practice for this competition year round though.”

For the competition, anyone in high school can participate. So qualifying is a matter of just practicing and then applying for the competition.

“You have to participate in schoolwide competitions first before the regional competition,” Paschel said. “This year if you were in the top five from regional you qualified for state.”

While after qualifying both Paschel and Berube made it to the state level, they both also had some faith and believed they would do well in the competition.

I’d never attended a POL event before, so I had no expectations when it came to winning/losing,” Berube said. “I figured my background in theatre would give me a leg up as far as engagement was concerned.”

The competition lasted three to six hours depending on the categories. Berube’s lasted six hours whereas Paschel’s lasted three and a half hours. Other competitors attended from all over North Alabama. 

“The other schools competing were in the Madison County and Madison City school districts such as James Clemens, Bob Jones, Hartselle, and Lee,” Berube said.

Both Paschel and Berube believed the competition was enjoyable. It involved and will continue to involve large amounts of public speaking.

“Few people ever get up on a stage in their lifetime, so I’d encourage students to take this opportunity to challenge themself,” Berube said. “At the end of the day, there’s a lot of accomplishment in having the courage to try something strange.”

With the regional competition now being over, the state is the next competition for Paschel and Berube. The state competition will be held in Montgomery.

“I look forward to competing at the state competition,” Paschel said.

Quaife was the guide for both students and representation for Sparkman faculty at the competition. Quaife knew what Poetry Out Loud was about beforehand as she had done this competition with students before.

Poetry out loud is a national poetry recitation competition,” Quaife said. “It encourages students to learn poetry, learn how to understand poetry and it teaches presentation skills and memorization skills.”

Quaife knows the ins and outs of the competition. She can be advised if a student wishes to join during the present competition or next year.

“So my students are required to participate in our classroom competition and then the winners from the classes compete with the other classes from the school so we have a Sparkman competition,” Quaife said. “And then we have a regional competition. We are part of Region 5. They do a first second and third at regions and then the top five move to the state.”

This is the first time a student from Sparkman has won first in the anthology category at a regional competition. Because an anthology is more untouched some explanation is required for what it means.

Anthology means they pick from poetry out loud website and we have had a first place winner at state in original but we have never had a first place in state anthology,” Quaife said. “And this year Isabel is our first first place winner at regionals. State competition is on the sixth at the Shakespeare festival. The state winner will go to nationals in DC. Cash prize for first, second and third places in nationals.”

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