How Reciting Poetry Helps Immaculate Heart High School Students Soar

Dr. Elizabeth Binggeli, who organized Immaculate Heart’s first-ever Poetry Out Loud Recitation Competition, introduced finalists (left to right) seniors Sophia Weiland, Emily Morejon and Lauren Sanchez and sophomore Jade Escobar at the school-wide competition. Earlier, more than 80 students participated in classroom challenges.
As Immaculate Heart’s winner in the school’s Poetry Out Loud Recitation Competition, senior Lauren Sanchez will advance to the county-level competition on February 1st in Cerritos.

Immaculate Heart High School encourages students to find their “voice” in a variety of ways – through writing, singing, debating, and, most recently, by reciting poetry!

“Public speaking is incredibly important for all of us,” noted Dr. Elizabeth Binggeli, the English teacher who recently organized Immaculate Heart’s first-ever Poetry Out Loud Recitation Competition.

Some 80 Immaculate Heart students competed in the Poetry Out Loud challenge, the first step in the national poetry recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Each year over 3 million high school students compete at their schools from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Students choose poems from over 800 selections on the Poetry Out Loud website, and then they perform them from memory.

From among those Immaculate Heart students competing at the classroom level, four young women advanced to the school’s finals event: sophomore Jade Escobar and seniors Emily Morejon, Lauren Sanchez, and Sophia Weiland. Judges selected Sanchez as Immaculate Heart’s winner following her recitation of Claude McKay’s “America” and “The World is Too Much With Us” by William Wordsworth.

Sanchez will now compete at the Los Angeles County Finalist Competition on February 1st in Cerritos. Should she triumph at the county-level competition, Sanchez will advance to the state level. State finalists are then flown to Washingon, D.C. where they compete for the national title and a $20,000 prize.

Dr. Binggeli said she felt Sanchez and the other three finalists “deeply understand the beauty and complexity of this poetic medium. All written expression has the capacity to move and dazzle us, but great poetry is the distillation of the distillation of the distillation of the best of language: a gong that once struck continues to ring in our ears for days and weeks and months and years,” she said.

“These young women, and the many who also competed, understand that blessed ringing in your ears. May it never go away!” the teacher added.

About Immaculate Heart

Founded in 1906, Immaculate Heart educates young women in grades sixth through 12th from its central location in the Los Feliz foothills near Griffith Park in Hollywood. The school has a long and distinguished history, with more than 10,000 graduates. Today’s student body of more than 700 young women is both geographically and ethnically diverse, drawing on students from throughout Los Angeles County. Last year, virtually 100 percent of Immaculate Heart graduates matriculated to colleges, including the most prestigious schools in the country.




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