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Poetry Out Loud Winners Head to Regional Competition

By Alisha Ahmed

Cassandra Acuna-Hoppe placed first and Lance Anthony placed second in this year's Poetry Out Loud competition held in the media center White Plains High School. Both students are advancing to the Westchester regional competition.

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest where students memorize and perform a poem of their choosing. The program enables students to develop their public speaking abilities, increase their confidence, and learn about literature and modern culture. The competition was conducted on December 7th in the Media Center at White Plains High School. Students chose a poem from the Poetry Out Loud website to recite, and their performance was assessed based on correctness, dramatic appropriateness, an indication of understanding, physical presence, vocal quality, and

overall performance. Mr. Polanco evaluated the poems, and Mr. Cronk, the head of the English department at WPHS, was also one of the panel of judges. Two presenters will be chosen following the judging to advance to the Westchester County competition.

Junior Cassandra Acuna-Hoppe recited the poem “I am Trying to Break Your Heart” by Kevin Young. To Cassandra, this poem stuck out to her. “I think this poem encapsulates a very specific feeling in relationships that many songs and books don’t cover but many teens experience. The imagery and intense language also really called my attention acting wise,” she said. The performance given by Cassandra was

enthralling and the poem came alive throughout her acting. When Cassandra was asked why she was inspired to do the Poetry Out Loud competition, she expressed “I have always loved to perform but I haven't quite pinpointed a medium to pursue acting. I’m also an avid reader of poetry. When I heard about Poetry Out Loud, I thought it would be a fun way to combine my love for literature and performing.”

Outside of school Cassandra also takes acting classes and has performed in theatrical plays. Cassandra will move on to the Westchester County competition

and has stated that she is practicing for her competition and will continue to seek performance opportunities.

In second place was Lance Anthony, who was also the Westchester County Champ

for 2022. Lance gave a wonderful and emotional performance of the poem “No I Wasn’t Meant to Love and be Loved” by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Lance stated, “The poem was initially attracting to me as I would be able to display my emotions through the somber poem and I felt as if the poem itself was relatable as it discussed what it felt like to be in a toxic relationship and truly finally reach your breaking point in a situation.” Along with Cassandra, Lance will advance to the regional competition as runner-up of WPHS, and he is looking forward to performing three new poems.

Cassandra and Lance showed incredible dedication and performed well at Poetry Out Loud, and WPHS is excited to cheer them on at regionals.

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