On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, Writers Incorporated sponsored the first Poetry Out Loud Contest for Vidalia High School. The event was held in the JR Trippe Middle School cafeteria at 6 pm. The competitors were as follows: Sophomore Natavjia Townsel; Freshman, Jariyah Williams; Freshman, Landon Lindsay; and Freshman Melodie Herndon. The contestants recited two poems from memory; each recitation was scored in separate rounds for accuracy, physical presence, voice & articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
Poetry Out Loud is promoted by the National Endowment of the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Poetry Out Loud is a fun and unique way to introduce students to poetry; the contest creates lifelong lovers of poetry and creative writing; it builds self-confidence, helps to develop social and emotional maturity, and offers an opportunity for all students grades 9-12 across the nation to succeed regardless of personality or learning style. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that begins at the classroom level. Winners advance to a schoolwide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expense paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to Washington, DC, to compete at the National Finals. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. One runner-up in each state will receive $100; his or her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry materials. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be given at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, including a $20,000 award for the national champion.
After an exciting competition, Jariyah Williams emerged as the winner. Jariyah will represent Vidalia Comprehensive High School in the South Georgia Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition on Saturday, February 18, 2017, at 1 pm, at the Telfair Center for the Arts in McRae, GA.