Laurel freshman Keeler to represent school at state Poetry Out Loud Competition

By Mike McClure

Laurel freshman Tyler Keeler will represent Laurel High School in the state Poetry Out Loud Competition, which begins with the semifinals on Feb. 13 in Dover. Keeler was one of three Laurel students who vied to advance to the state competition.

The students spent four to five weeks preparing to recite two poems in front of their peers. Keeler scored the most points on the competition rubric during the presentations.

It was a little different for me because Im not as comfortable as I should be speaking in front of a large group of people, said Keeler, who called it an eye opening experience, one that he would do again. Its more than just reciting the poem.

Any person that is trying to perform something, they have to make sure they understand what they are saying so the people know what they are saying, Laurel Theater/English teacher Megan Julian said.

Tyler and the other Laurel students had to break down the poems to figure out what the poet was trying to say. They looked at the poets background and major life events. They also each spent time outside of school memorizing the poems and met once a week to perform/recite.

Keeler is one of 20 semifinals who will compete on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover. The field will be narrowed down to 12 for the finals on Feb. 27 at the Dover High School performing arts center.

Student will present three poems each: one pre 20th century, one 25 lines or fewer, and one poem by choice. The poems must by part of the Poetry Out Loud anthology.

This is the first year that the Laurel High has fully participated in the competition. Julian said the experience was a positive one for her students.

I think this experience really brought out a lot in the students. I think it showed they could do more than they thought they could do, said Julian.

Keeler describes himself as quiet and shy, but Julian said he has a strong voice when he his performing. She hopes the students who participated this year served as an example for other students who may give it a try next year.

Keeler, who has a love for literature, wants to teach English or geography, perhaps as a professor.

Reading is an escape. Youre pulled into another dimension. I think thats why its so powerful, Keeler said.

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