We Have a New BHS Poet Laureate!

In the weeks leading up to February vacation, BHS students participated in the annual school-wide Poetry Out Loud recitation competition. Each student chose a poem to memorize and recite in their English classes. Each English class chose two students to represent them in the BHS semifinals. Eight students moved on from the semifinals to the final competition, which was held on Thursday, February 14th. As always, the final contestants brought energy and life to poems both classic and contemporary. With a selection ranging from Donne’s metaphysical rumination on long-distance love to Meredith Holmes’ contemporary ode to her bed, the finalists exposed students, faculty, and staff to poems that span centuries.

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This year’s judges included Michelle Garcia, youth Poet and member of the MassLEAP board; Callie Graham, BHS Teacher Librarian; Patrick Larkin, BPS Assistant Superintendent; and Nicole Monk, Burlington Public Library YA Librarian. The event opened with Monk’s brief presentation on the Burlington Library’s spring programs. She highlighted this year’s Burlington Reads activities, as well as the upcoming Burlington Public Library ComixCon. Before BHS students took the stage, Michelle Garcia, a returning guest poet, shared an impactful poem exploring her experiences as a Latinx woman and the empowerment inherent in her hoop earrings. Both presenters helped establish a welcoming atmosphere that highlighted the importance of language and connecting with others through literature.

We are so very proud of all BHS students for participating in this program, which is in its thirteenth year at BHS. Getting up in front of your peers to recite poetry, whether in your classroom or on stage in the auditorium, is an enormous challenge. Making it past the classroom, into the semis, and then to the finals is no easy task. This year’s competing finalists were: Mikaila Gnerre (Class of 2020), Jessica Goober (Class of 2019), Ananya Gurjar (Class of 2019), Aleena John (Class of 2022), Julia Papasodoro (Class of 2020), Caitlin Shea (Class of 2019), Ashwini Shinde (Class of 2019), and Luis Villalta (Class of 2020). All student performances were impressive and it was a difficult task for the judges to name a winner. After two rounds of recitations, Caitlin Shea was crowned the 2019 BHS Poet Laureate. Ashwini Shinde placed second and Luis Villalta came in third.

Caitlin Shea will compete in the Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud Semifinals next Saturday, March 2nd at Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham. We are looking forward to cheering her on, to seeing the talent of students across the state, and to being inspired by poetry brought to life on stage.

Caitlin Shea, Ashwini Shinde, Julia Papasodoro, Aleena John, Luis Villalta, Mikaila Gnerre, Ananya Gurjar, Jessica Goober

Caitlin Shea, Ashwini Shinde, Julia Papasodoro, Aleena John, Luis Villalta, Mikaila Gnerre, Ananya Gurjar, Jessica Goober



Shannon Janovitz