Chi Chi Ukeje '19 Wins Indian Creek Poetry Out Loud Contest

On Friday, December 7, the Upper School student body gathered in the Jack and Nancy Becker Center for a favorite event of the year: Indian Creek School’s (ICS) 2018 Poetry Out Loud Recitation! This year’s recitation was especially powerful as alumna – and 2018 National Poetry Out Loud Finalist - Cayla Turner ’18 appeared as a guest judge and performed a self-written poem during intermission. (Cayla last performed this poem for the First Lady of Maryland, Mrs. Yumi Hogan, earlier in the fall.)  23 students in grades 7-12 took the stage to perform recitations. This year, senior Chinyere (Chi Chi) Ukeje won with her recitations of James Weldon Johnson’s “Art versus Trade” and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Arrow and the Song.”

Poetry Out Loud is a literary arts program created by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. Through this program, students across Maryland are enriched by this national arts education program that encourages the mastery of great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Mini-contests were held in Indian Creek Literature classes over the past week, and representatives from each class competed in the school competition, where performances were scored by a panel of judges in the categories of Physical Presence, Voice and Articulation, Dramatic Appropriateness, Evidence of Understanding, Overall Performance, and Accuracy.

“Every year I’m blown away by the students in this event,” shared Poetry Out Loud advisor Matt McCormick. “What I love most about our School is that it’s not just a few kids who have the courage to get on stage and recite poetry in front of their peers and teachers. Students of all ages, with a wide variety of interests and school activities are inspired to perform. And they really put their hearts and souls into their recitations. It’s exhilarating to see, and I can’t wait to see Chi-Chi in regionals!”

While the official Poetry Out Loud competition starts at ninth grade, seven ICS seventh and eighth grade students volunteered to participate this year. Eighth grade students, Julia Argilan, Eva Gabler, and Kamrynn Hobbs, along with seventh grade students Matthew Earl, Madison Hebron, Emily Larson, and Ranee O’Connor all gave impressive performances. In this category, Ranee O’Connor won first place with her recitation of “The Obligation to Be Happy” by Linda Pastan.

16 Contestants in grades 9-12 each recited two poems, whose scores were combined for the final competition. Becca Colley ’22, Kaiya Collins ’22, Leah Corckran ’21, Annabelle Derrick ’21, Maeve Drury ’19, Jasmine Harrison ’20, Keira Hofeling ’22, Sonia Homick ’20, Chidera Irono ’19, Lailah McCuiston ’20, Nick Menendez ’22, Michael Mercer ’20, Ashley Piper ’19, Ford Smith ’19, and Katie Spencer ’22, joined Chi Chi to give inspiring performances.

Chi Chi will represent Indian Creek in the county Poetry Out Loud competition in a few weeks. Winners from the county competition move on to compete at the state and national levels where scholarship prizes are awarded. Best wishes to Chi Chi Ukege as she defends the current Poetry Out Loud State Championship title of Indian Creek School!