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UCPS’ Poetry Out Loud competition grows in participation

Pictured, from left, are first-place winner, Raven Covington, 17, a senior at CATA; event organizer Cheryl Nelson, UCPS High School English Curriculum Coordinator; and second-place winner (who will serve as an alternate) Janae Brown.

When Maya Angelou wrote the poem “Phenomenal Woman,” she surely had a young woman like 17-year-old Raven Covington in mind.
   
“I felt the poem. I really just felt like a phenomenal woman,” Covington said after being named the first-place winner in the UCPS District Poetry Out Loud competition. “I’ve been practicing since October. I won thanks to my English teacher, Jennifer Clark, who made us practice every day in her classroom.”
   
Covington, a senior at Central Academy of Technology and the Arts (CATA), wowed the judges with her rendition of Angelou’s poem during the January 26, 2010, poetry contest held at the Monroe Public Library. Poetry Out Loud, created by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, encourages students across America to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. (View Covington reciting Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman")
   
Competition begins in the classroom. Winners then move onto a school-level competition, and finally, they compete countywide. The first-place winner of the countywide contest and an alternate then compete statewide.
   
In the event Covington cannot make the district competition, the second-place winner, Janae Brown, also from CATA, will compete. Brown recited, “I’m a Fool to Love You,” by Cornelius Eady.
   
Event coordinator Cheryl Nelson, UCPS High School English Curriculum Coordinator, said this is the fifth year for the poetry event, which has grown each year. “The very first year I was in Union County (2005-06), the contest was in a teacher’s classroom with two or three students and a couple of teachers and parents.”
   
This year, five high schools competed, ranging in grade level from freshmen to seniors. Those schools were CATA, Piedmont High School, Weddington High School, Porter Ridge High School and Cuthbertson High School.
   
This year’s statewide competition will be held at the Museum of History in Raleigh on March 6, 2010. The state-level winner will advance to the national finals in Washington DC in April of 2010.
   
The Poetry Out Loud Competition is sponsored through the North Carolina Arts Council.
   
Covington plans a career in nursing. She currently studies medical science at CATA. She is the daughter of Walter and Lorraine Covington of Monroe.

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Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Feb 04, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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