Kelsey White delivers poetry at annual competition
For the third consecutive year, senior Kelsey White represented Northwestern at the regional recitation competition, "Poetry Out Loud," advancing into semi-finals.
White was one of nine young women from area high schools competing Feb. 5 at the Allentown Art Museum.
Surrounded by a mixed media installation titled "Alphabet" created by artist Bruce Wall, White recited three poems from memory to the audience of students, family members and teachers.
White's family attended the event in support.
After her first recitation of the poem "Sanctuary," her mother, first grade teacher Wendy White couldn't help but admit she was "just a little bit proud.
"She's grown a lot over the last three years just doing it," she said. "I like watching her confidence come through."
The strength of her first recitation brought admiration from the audience and pushed White into the semi-final round.
She also recited two other works.
"I definitely enjoyed finding poems I could relate to and that could apply to me and my life," said Kelsey.
She said participating in "Poetry Out Loud" over the years exposed her to a new world of literacy.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Allentown Art Museum have sponsored the event for the last 10 years.
Gazel Jabir from Whitehall High School will advance to the final round in Harrisburg in early March.
The winner of the state contest will proceed to nationals in Washington.
Bringing Poetry Out Loud to Northwestern was the brainchild of English teacher Ann Way.
"We went to an NCTE (National Council of English Teachers) conference and they had a little display," Way said.
When she proposed the possibility of participating, many of her English colleagues jumped at the chance.
"As literature teachers, we love poetry so much we thought this would be a great way to involve students," said Pam Reiss, English Department chair.
Way and Reiss coached White, encouraging her to dig in and interpret the three poems she selected.
Northwestern has participated in the contest since 2008.
Before Kelsey White came forward as a sophomore, Northwestern was represented by Ethan Goss (2008), Justin Lingenfelter (2009), Jarrod Walczer (2010), James George (20011), and Jake Hoover (2012).
White took second place in last year's competition.