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ACT Student Places Top 5 Among Thousands in State Poetry Contest

Juliet Duchesnse

Willimantic - A student of EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) magnet high school has placed among the top 5 in the final round of Connecticut’s 12th Annual Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. More than 7,000 students from a record-breaking 43 Connecticut high schools participated in Poetry Out Loud this school year.

ACT senior Juliet Duchesnse of Willimantic, captivated the audience on Mar. 4, 2017, at Cheney Hall in Manchester with her recital of “Under the Vulture-Tree” by David Bottoms, “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in)” by E.E. Cummings and “The Paradox” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Connecticut Office of the Arts , produced in partnership with Connecticut Humanities, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

According to the Connecticut Humanities website, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Students who participate in Poetry Out Loud practice public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

“The most rewarding aspect of participating in this competition is how much growth I’ve made through the preparation. I have built confidence, and further developed my understanding of poetry and love for the poetic form,” said Duchesnse. “It has been so rewarding to put in the amount of work I did and be recognized for doing so. I had a lot of fun.”

Duchesnse plans to attend college at University of Maine at Farmington this fall and aspires to teach English and creative writing at the secondary or post-secondary level.

 “The process for preparing students to recite involves selecting poems they connect with, researching background on the lives and inspirations of the poets, and then practicing memorization and participating in performance workshops,” said ACT Creative Writing teacher John Wetmore. “The goal is to help students develop a strong understanding of the poem, as well as work on skills like diction and articulation—as both are key components for the judging of the competition.”

Twelve ACT students in the advanced poetry course at ACT participated in the school-wide competition.

ACT, a performing arts magnet high school, is now recruiting academically motivated students who will enter grades 9-12 in the 2017-2018 school year. Students have daily access to creative experiences through a rigorous curriculum that integrates the performing arts with more traditional academic high school subjects. Visit www.eastconn.org/act to learn more or download an application.

EASTCONN, which administers ACT, is a public, non-profit Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut schools and communities since 1980.