McQueen’s best perform at Poetry Out Loud Contest


McQueen Poetry Out Loud winner Alyssa Sy performs Jean Valentine’s poem “Sanctuary” Wednesday night at Grace Church. PHOTO BY Adam Alam


Alyssa Sy’s and Seralyn Trimbach’s performances at McQueen’s Poetry Out Loud contest at Grace Church Wednesday night were good enough to earn them a place at next week’s WCSD semi-final competition.

The top score for the night went to Sy, who recited Jean Valentine’s poem “Sanctuary.” Trimbach’s recitation of Craig Arnold’s poem “Very Large Moth” earned her second place.

Rommel Macatlang finished third with “Ode to the Midwest” by Kevin Young.

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“I’m really surprised,” Sy, a junior, said of winning the competition. “It wasn’t the best performance that I practiced, but I did think that I did pretty good.”

This is the first year Sy has made it to the stage at Grace Church. She said her goal was just to win her class competition. So, she began searching for a poem over winter break, found one she really liked, and began rehearsing it early. She said she spent about a month getting it right.

She couldn’t believe it when she learned she had won her class competition in Mrs. Amanda Solem’s junior English course.

“I thought I was going to at least get top 3 [in her class],” she said. “But, I couldn’t believe that I won. The other performances were really good.”

Solem said she wasn’t surprised by the outcome.

“Just watching her perform in the classroom, I knew she was going to win,” Solem said.

Solem’s students voted on the winners in her classes. She said Sy had more votes in her class than all the other finalists combined.

Wednesday night’s competition was the culmination of a department-wide poetry unit that started at the beginning of the second semester. Over 1,000 McQueen students chose, rehearsed, and performed a poem in their English classes. The top performers from each teacher’s grade level – 19 total – were chosen to represent their classes at Wednesday’s performance.

Performances, both in the classroom and at the competition, were judged based on accuracy, physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.

McQueen’s contest this week is part of a national Poetry Out Loud competition.

Winners at next week’s semi-final at the Nevada Museum of Art will represent the district at the state competition. The district contest will take place on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

From there, one Nevada student will compete at the national contest in Washington D.C.

The school competition is also one of the biggest English department fundraisers of the year.

Department chair Kira Temple said the English department raised about $2,000 from the event. About a third of that money, she said, is used to award seniors with scholarships at the end of the school year. The rest of the money is used to recover expenses from the competition – about $200, Temple said – pay for any winners to travel to the national competition, and fund English department needs, like supplies.



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