Vineland High School junior Michaela Giuliani won the 2024 VHS Poetry Out Loud Champion title on Thursday, January 18, during the school-level competition held in the VHS South Auditorium.
Giuliani was one of seven students from VHS North and South who vied for the top spot at the school and a chance to move on to the Region 2 competition at Appel Farm in Elmer on February 2, according to Vanessa Rasmussen, AP English teacher and English Department chairperson at the high school. Competing along with Giuliani were Grace Valdez, Mikaya Caputo, Marley Smith, last year’s Champion Jillian Schultz, Iris Giocondo, and this year’s runner-up, Sheilitza De La Rosa.
“I am very proud of all of our students’ hard work, creativity, and insight,” Rasmussen said. “In class, we work on Poetry Out Loud because it improves writing and analytical skills. Working with poetry and recitation can also help students develop empathy and increase their self-confidence. Our students each chose wonderful poems and interpreted them with sensitivity and originality.”
The students were judged by Adaliz DeJesus, World Languages teacher; Daniel Kuzma, Social Studies teacher; Natalie Reynolds, media specialist; Noelle Patel, English teacher, who served as prompter; Becky Linton, English teacher, who served as accuracy judge; and Amy Munsick, English teacher, who served as tally judge.
Scores were determined by the Poetry Out Loud official rubric, which evaluates physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic interpretation, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and overall performance.
Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country.
Participating teachers use the Poetry Out Loud toolkit to teach poetry recitation and run classroom competitions. Students select, memorize, and recite poems from an anthology of more than 700 classic and contemporary poems. The competition begins at the school level before advancing to regional and then state competitions.
The winner of the state competition wins a trip to the National Finals where they have a chance at winning $20,000. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.3 million students and 76,000 teachers from 19,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud.
The New Jersey Finals are set for March 14. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will be held in Washington, DC from April 30 to May 2.