What do the Heavens, Hospital Windows, and Horses all Have in Common?

Answer: They were all topics addressed in this year’s Poetry Out Loud poems recited by our students on February 11th!

It’s so exciting to have brought Poetry Out Loud back to Chrysalis for a third year. This National Poetry Recitation contest always begins in November for our students, when they first select their poem and begin memorizing. For 53 talented students around the nation, this preparation culminates in a National competition in Washington, DC. The online anthology lists hundreds of poems to choose from, so everyone can select a poem that is meaningful for them. I like to encourage students to pick a poem that resonates with them, rather than just whatever’s shortest, as they’ll have the poem with them for the rest of their life.

Our class competition took place on December 8th this year. At this level, we narrowed our field of competitors to the top two from each graduating class. These students had another month to select and memorize a second poem from the anthology. On January 14th, these students performed for the entire student body in the School-wide competition. After much deliberation, we were able to crown our first and second place winners, announcing that they would go on to represent Chrysalis at Regionals.

On February 11th, I drove two of our students to Hamilton, MT to participate in Regionals. I’m not much of one for sappy love stories, but I started the drive by reminding everyone why we were doing this. Yes, I love poetry, but I don’t force Poetry Out Loud on my students because I want them to perform poetry perfectly (though clearly I’ve got alliteration on my mind!). I ask my students to perform poetry in the hopes that they will find a poem that resonates so deeply with them that they take it into their soul, meld with the poem, and love it so much that they feel the need to share it with others. I like to think this is fun, but I’ve also been told I have a strange sense of fun. I always bring my students to Regionals with the hope that they will have fun, and it turns out they did!

I must mention how grateful I am that one of our students’ fathers was able to join us in Hamilton! He’d been flying around the country for business and managed to make a last-minute change to watch his daughter perform. Thank you so much for your support!

Both of our students performed their poems admirably, and though they don’t always believe it, I don’t think either of them could have performed their poems better. I felt transformed into a giddy teen again as I watched them walk off the stage and had to sit on my hands to stop myself from joyfully jumping up and hugging them with squeals of delight. Even before the judges announced the winners, I was incredibly proud of them both, not only for having the courage to get up on stage in front of dozens of strangers, but also for how completely they shared their poems and their souls with us.

I wish I could share the electric energy felt as the judges announced the winners. It is with great pride that I would like to announce that both of our students will be attending State on March 12th! Please wish them luck and mark your calendars to be sending warm vibes toward Helena that Saturday morning.

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Krysten Fitzsimmons