Grugan Wins Local Poetry Out Loud Competition

Four Tyrone students competed in Tyrone’s second annual local level of the National Poetry Out Loud Competition on Friday, January 6, 2022.

Senior Mario Grugan won and sophomore Alysa Wheland was the runner-up.

Grugan will move on to the next level of competition.

It was a really good competition which really showed how far our competitors have come in public speaking.”

— Mario Grugan

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition where students from all over the country memorize and orate poems for a panel of judges.

According to their website, the program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

At the local level, each participant must orate two poems and the participant with the highest overall score will move on to the regional level.

At the regional level, each participant must memorize and orate three poems, one of which must be 25 lines or fewer and another must be pre-20th century.

The winner of the regional level then moves on to the state competition.

Unfortunately, due to COVID, all levels of competition beyond the local level will be held virtually. After the state level, there is also a national competition.

Grugan came in first with a total of 227 points. “It was a really good competition which really showed how far our competitors have come in public speaking,” said Grugan.

Coming in a close second was sophomore Alysa Wheland. Wheland orated “Not Waving but Drowning” by Stevie Smith and “Blade, Unplugged” by Tim Siebels.

“Poetry is a passion of mine, and I have spent a great deal of time within the past year finding new poems and poets to learn from and love,” said Wheland. “Given this, it hurt to lose by only two points, but at the same time I did significantly better than I expected.”

In third place was junior Laci Daniel. Daniel orated “April Midnight” by Arthur Symons and “Ice” by Gail Mazur.

“I am so proud of my competitors as I saw aloof the hard work that was put into the competition,” said Daniel. “I couldn’t have performed confidently without the help of my wonderful peers and speech team instructors.”

Speakers answered the recitation call with effort and enthusiasm. Local competition scores from last year and this year prove that students are either: reciting consistently or growing exponentially”

— Leah Deskevich

In fourth place was sophomore Bryanna Britten. Britten orated “Another One of the World’s Liars” by Mohja Kahf and “The Chimney Sweeper: A little black thing among the snow” by William Blake. This was Britten’s first time competing in the Poetry Outloud Competition.

“This was my first Poetry Out Loud competition, and I felt that my orations were strong. I was really able to see myself grow as a speaker and I have a much deeper appreciation for poetry after doing this,” said Britten.

Speech team adviser Mrs. Leah Deskevich was very proud of her student-speakers.

“Our speakers rocked. I was, and am, so proud of them,” said Deskevich. “The speakers answered the recitation call with effort and enthusiasm. Local competition scores from last year and this year prove that students are either: reciting consistently or growing exponentially.”

Not only was Deskevich impressed with the speakers, but so was judge and 10th grade TAHS English teacher Mr. Jonathan Holmes.

“Overall, the participants read well and delivered a clear understanding of the majority of their poems,” said Holmes. “The readings themselves were done well: some were performed better than others as it is in competition. I’m looking forward to the upcoming years and events of POL.”

With the local competition over, it is now time for Senior Mario Grugan to move on to the regional level of competition.

Unfortunately, every level of competition past the local level will be held virtually, meaning that participants will have to send in a recording of their orations, rather than reciting in front of a live audience.

Last year Grugan placed fourth in the state and is once again looking forward to moving on.

“I am really grateful for the opportunity granted to me and am proud of all my fellow competitors who are all very skilled orators in their own right,” said Grugan.

Good luck to Mario Grugan as he competes in the regional level of the competition held virtually on Thursday, January 20th.