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Michaela DeBruhl uses poetry to bring joy to others while taking them to a place they’ve never been before.
The Andrew Jackson High School freshman brought that joy center stage Dec. 16 when she captured first place in the Lancaster County School District’s second annual Poetry Out Loud contest.
The competition requires students to memorize 19th or 20th century poems and recite them in front of judges at the Bradley Arts and Sciences Building at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.
Each participant recited two poems. There were two rounds of competition.
Those advancing to the second round performed their two poems again.
DeBruhl recited Julie Sheehan’s “Hate Poem,” in which the subject explains her conflicted feeling for her mate – both love and hate.
Her other poem – “Amor Mundi” by Christina Rossetti – involves a man asking a woman to run away with him. It has a Romeo and Juliet feel to it, DeBruhl said.
“I love drama and it was just another way to express,” said DeBruhl, 15, who takes a drama class at AJHS. “It’s kind of like acting, just a little harder.”
When her drama teacher told the class about the Poetry Out Loud contest, DeBruhl decided to try it out to see if she would like it.
Although DeBruhl doesn’t enjoy poetry as much as acting, she said there’s still a lot of joy involved in reciting poems.
“It’s fun to make them (audiences) happy and go to a different place – things they wouldn’t see unless they take a trip,” she said.
DeBruhl’s goal is to attend the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville for her junior and senior years to study drama. She said she’d love to become a professional actress one day.
Her mother, Rachel DeBruhl, said she’s proud of all her daughter’s work – whether it’s drama or poetry.
“For her to do well in this is amazing,” she said. “Drama has been her thing. She loves drama.”
Poetry Out Loud
This year’s district-level Poetry Out Loud competition was open to any high school student who wanted to participate. Because of that, there were more than twice as many participants than in 2008.
Organizers divided the participants in two groups, with half the students competing in one room and the other half simultaneously doing the same in another room.
The final round consisted of 12 finalists, who performed on the Bundy Auditorium stage.
David Platts, the district’s arts specialist, believes the competition turned out well.
“I feel like it was a tremendous success,” Platts said. “It speaks to the commitment of our English and drama teachers in keeping poetry alive and in the forefront in our district.”
Each of the individual winners from the four county high schools will participate in regional competition Jan 23. The location hasn’t been announced yet.
The state finals will be March 20 in Columbia.
The Poetry Out Loud culminates in Washington, D.C., where a national winner will be determined.
• Poetry Out Loud winners
Individual high school winners (These students will advance to the regional competition):
• AJHS - Michaela DeBruhl
• BHS - Amber Luck
• ILHS - Michael Bryant
• LHS - Christopher Blackmon
District level winners
• 1st place - Michaela DeBruhl (AJHS)
• 2nd place - Andrea Azumendi (AJHS)
• 3rd place - Amber Luck (BHS)
• Honorable mention - La’Shay Denton (BHS)
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at email@example.com or (803) 283-1152