Submitted by Kaylene Friesen
OAKHURST — After all of the scores were tabulated, sophomore Chloe DePledge placed first and freshman Matthew Silguero placed second in Glacier High School’s Poetry Out Loud competitioh, held Wednesday, Nov. 18. Both students will advance to the next round of competition.
Poetry Out Loud gives high school students the opportunity to learn great poetry, perform it, and win prizes at various levels of competition. Participants also develop public speaking skills, build self-confidence, learn about their literary heritage, and compete for college scholarship funding.
DePledge recited “Barter” by Sara Teasdale and “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Silguero recited “The Ocean” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “Sea Fever” by John Masefield.
“I had a sense of calm before the competition, but when it was actually my turn to recite, I was nervous about doing justice to the poets’ work,” DePledge said. “I told myself, ‘I can do this. These poems were meant to be heard out loud.’”
Michael Cox, Director of Western Sierra Charter Schools, welcomed parents, students, and Glacier staff members to the competition at the Oakhurst campus. Kaylene Friesen, Glacier teacher and coordinator for the Poetry Out Loud event, gave an overview of the competition and introduced the panel of judges made up of Peter Clarke, Steve Riley, and David Williams.
Clarke’s varied experiences include time as a reporter, screenwriter, and member of the Peace Corps. Clarke moved to Oakhurst in 2000 and in 2013 started acting and directing at the Golden Chain Theatre and is its current president.
Steve Riley authored and illustrated a series of children’s books centered on the character of Ty Cooney based on his experiences with raccoons while living in Yosemite Valley. Riley combines his love of art and acting as a member of the advisory board of Kid’s Need to Read, a national non-profit dedicated to the promotion of reading in underprivileged areas of the country, and travels around the country promoting literacy and the creative process to kids of all ages.
David Williams is the Executive Director of Azusa Pacific University’s High Sierra Program at Bass Lake, has a Ph.D. in Ancient Greek Philosophy, and is an experienced and certified wilderness guide.
“I am extremely proud of all three of our participants, Max Chance, Chloe DePledge, and Matthew Silguero,” Friesen said. “In his welcome, Mr. Cox reminded us that words have power and this is reflected in one of Chloe’s reasons for selecting ‘A Psalm of Life.’ The poem reflects her own belief that life is not pointless and by reciting it she hopes to help others to see that their life has meaning, too.”
The Madera Arts Council has made it possible for winners of school competitions to work with Poet Laureate Lee Herrick in preparation for the next level of competition. DePledge and Silguero will advance to the county competition on January 23, 2016, at Yosemite High School.