Children and Youth

High school students recite poetry at Arts Council event

Anzar High sophomore heading to Poetry Out Loud state championship in Sacramento.
Judges from left to right: SBC Superintendent of Schools Krystal Lomanto, SBC Water Resources Association Conservation Program Manager Shawn Novack, Mission Village Voice owner and editor Anne Caetano, and SBC Arts Council Board President Louise Roy. Photo by Carmel de Bertaut.
Anzar student Xaiver Guaracha. Photo courtesy of San Benito Arts Council.
Anzar student Norberto Murillo. Photo courtesy of San Benito Arts Council.
San Benito High student Christian Casarez. Photo courtesy of San Benito Arts Council.
San Benito High student Alanah Suniga Jimenez. Photo courtesy of San Benito Arts Council.

Five local students recited poetry during a contest at Anzar High School on Feb. 8, with the hopes of making it to the Poetry Out Loud state championship. The event is set to take place March 10-11 in Sacramento.

Anzar students Xavier Guaracha, Norberto Murillo and Santino Leahy, and San Benito High School students Christian Casarez and Alanah Suniga Jimenez memorized and recited works by poets including Langston Hughes and Robert Frost.

The fourth annual local poetry contest was organized by the San Benito Arts Council.

Leahy, a sophomore at Anzar High School, won the contest and said he is excited to go to Sacramento to participate in the state championship. He said he chose to recite “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost and “Sea Fever” by John Masefield because he “liked how they flowed.” He was not familiar with the poetry of Frost or Masefield before the competition. His mother Michelle Leahy stood beaming next to her son and said she was proud of him.

Students were judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding of the poem recited and overall performance.

Judge Anne Caetano, owner and editor of The Mission Village Voice, explained why she participated in the event.

“Because I support the Arts Council,” she said. “They have done so many wonderful things for the county.”

“We do it to expose the students to experiencing poetry in a different type of way,” said Amanda Chiado, a poet and Arts Council education director. “When you memorize it, when you learn it and recite, you own it in a very unique way. And students are exposed to lots of other writers they might not be exposed to.”

Here are the poems recited at the contest:

Xavier Guaracha

1. “Harlem” by Langston Hughes

2. “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

Norberto Murillo

1. “Dreamers” by Siegfried Sassoon

Santino Leahy

1. “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost

2. “Sea Fever” by John Masefield

Christian Casarez

1. “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by E.E. Cummings

2. “Black Boys Play the Classics” by Toi Derricotte

Alanah Suniga Jimenez

1. “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye


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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.