Lee students' poetry skills tapped for upcoming events

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Sanford will be well represented in the realm of poetry by Lee County High School students in the coming weeks.

Charles Hill IV is preparing three poems for the North Carolina Poetry Out Loud competition in Greensboro on March 16, and Joshua Escalante Gutierrez will be a featured speaker at the Sam Ragan Poetry Festival for the North Carolina Poetry Society in Southern Pines on March 23.

Hill, a junior, was born in Indianapolis, Ind., and moved to Sanford at age 1. He has a GPA of 3.56 and participates in varsity football and wrestling. Two years ago, his writing was published in Creative Communications from Logan, Utah.

“I try to get everything that I can from my exposure to high school,” Hill said. This is his second year in the POL competition.

Gutierrez, the Poetry Out Loud District Winner, is a ninth-grader and formerly lived in Siler City. He was a member of the advanced composition honors class when he participated in the poetry competition. He has recently joined the AVID Program at Lee County High School and said he hopes to eventually join the military before he attends college.

Hill is one of 33 high school students from across the state who will take center stage on Saturday, March 16, in Greensboro, to compete in Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and coordinated by the North Carolina Arts Council. The program, which will be held at locations around downtown Greensboro, is free and open to the public.

“Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theater into high school classrooms,” said Carolyn P.S. York, District Coordinator of Lee County. “Through the program, students can master public speaking skills, increase reading comprehension scores, build self confidence and learn about their literary heritage.”

The program begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Central Branch of the Greensboro Public Library, 219 N. Church St. Three concurrent semifinals at the library and the Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St., start at 11:15 a.m. Each semifinal features 11 students. Winners of the semifinals will move on to the finals, which begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Ave. All rounds of the competition are in the same area of downtown, and are free and open to the public.

Schools participating in the program received supplemental curriculum materials from the NEA, including online anthologies, a program guide to help instructors teach recitation and performance, an audio CD featuring distinguished actors and writers, promotional and media guides and access to a comprehensive website.

Students first participate at the school level then compete at the district level. Winners from district competitions advance to the state-level competition. The winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national championship, which will be held April 29-30, 2013. The North Carolina champion will compete for a $20,000 college scholarship.

The state winner's school receives a $500 stipend to be used for purchasing poetry books. The runner-up at the state level receives $100, with his or her school receiving a $200 stipend for buying poetry books.