Josee Robertson, John Marshall High School
Recently, a couple Marshall County students pioneered a new poetry program. Progressing from stage performance and pom poms, the students took on a different role, cheered on a new chapter at their schools. Winning classroom competitions where they didn’t just triumph, they trail blazed, Cheyenne Meeks from Cameron High School and Josee Robertson from John Marshall High School out-performed their peers to claim their crowns as school champions. Forerunners for this program, they are the founders, the first.
Although they were the leading ladies for their schools, Poetry Out Loud, which is a national poetry recitation contest, just celebrated its 11th year. Students don’t just learn about great poetry, but the program also encourages empathy, as students have to not only memorize their poems, but internalize them. They not only practice pronunciation and public speaking, but putting themselves in other people’s places. They don’t just learn art, but articulation, the ability to abstract.
The competition doesn’t just build confidence, but composure. Students don’t just learn about their literary heritage, but also about themselves. They don’t just recite, they ratify and reaffirm. With contest criteria such as Voice and Articulation, Level of Understanding, and Accuracy, the talent it takes to advance is tough, and both students have plenty to be proud of.
Determined and dependable in their delivery, worthy in their words, steadfast in their selections, the students shined on the stage, and the poetry stars are only going to get brighter, because they are not the only local high school talent to take poetry to new platforms. Fellow high schoolers Jordan Peck, April Young, Gabrielle Marshall, and Makayla Carney will be shining onstage at the Towngate Theatre’s Poetry Slam Series. More than high school students, but local leaders, they are all groundbreaking girls. They are vanguards with their voices, and although they may be new kids on the block, they are mature on the mic, and you can see them for yourself April 9th at 8 P.M.!