By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Algonquin Regional High School senior Hannah Moran was one of six semifinalists in this year’s National Poetry Out Loud Competition.
This national recitation contest involves students selecting poems from a database, memorizing them and performing them in front of a panel of judges.
“This year marks the competition’s 11th year in the state of Massachusetts,” explained Seth Czarnecki, advisor and English teacher at Algonquin.
Eighty-seven schools across the state participated with more than 21,000 student competitors. Hannah advanced to become one of the 24 finalists and prepared three poems to be performed at the competition’s venue, the Old South Meeting House on Washington Street in Boston.
After the first two rounds of students reciting their first two poems, the four judges deliberate. After the third round, six finalists are then chosen, of which Hannah was one.
“The judges have a rubric where they look for things like articulation, dramatic appropriateness, overall performance and more,” Czarnecki said.
Hannah’s first poem was “A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky” by Luis Carroll. This was a poem that she loved as a young child. Her second selection was titled “Love Song” by Dorothy Parker. Although this was an unfamiliar poem, Hannah connected with the voice of the author. The third poem was titled “Solitude” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
“’Solitude’ really resonated with me,” Hannah said. “There was one line in that poem that says, ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you.’ It’s really beautiful, the sentiments it shares and the language that is used.”
Hannah has always loved poetry and really enjoys the ability to make the connection between the meaning and the emotion of a given poem.
“Hannah can be shy but when she is on stage, you would never know it. She is able to communicate each nuance of the poem so profoundly to the audience and that’s the beauty,” Czarnecki said.
She seems able to connect to the poems on a deeper level and find personal fulfillment.
“For me, I think this type of competition is a very important element for students,” she said. “It has taught me discipline, expression, how to act in front of an audience, so many components of one’s intellect and so much more.”
Czarnecki started at Algonquin in 2010 when Lindsay Coppens was the advisor of Poetry Out Loud. They connected and she encouraged him to get involved. He has been the advisor for the past four years.
“For me, I was reluctant to get involved as I recall having nightmares in high school when I had to memorize passages from ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” he noted. “Lindsay convinced me to look with an open eye. It became instantly apparent that being able to connect fully with poetry brought out something in the students that you would not otherwise see.”
Hannah will be entering Wheaton College in the fall and hopes to earn a teaching degree. She resides in Northborough with her parents and cat, India. In her free time, she enjoys theater, music, dance and literature.
“Hannah has always loved the written word, and breathes life into every syllable. Her passion speaks volumes through her delivery and, as her parent, I couldn’t be prouder,” said her mother, Shawn Gillespie.