Benji Richards ’23 wins SMS Poetry Out Loud Competition

Benji Richards '23 has won Stratton Mountain School's 2021 Poetry Out Loud Competition and will go on to compete at the State Level on March 15, 2021.
STRATTON- SMS Alpine’s Benji Richards ’23 has been recognized as the winner of Stratton Mountain School’s 2nd-annual Poetry Out Loud competition. As the winner of the school competition, Benji will compete in the Vermont Showcase on March 15, 2021, at 7:00 P.M. on the Vermont PBS OVEE platform.

Richards, who performed “To the Oppressors” by Pauli Murray, edged out classmates Sofia De Bitetto ’23, and Gabriel Dawkins ’23 in what organizer and English Teacher Chris Marks can only describe as an “incredibly close competition.”

For the last two years, Marks has encouraged SMS Sophomores to compete in Poetry Out Loud to enhance their public speaking and memorization skills. Richards, De Bitetto, and Dawkins were amongst 26 sophomores who recorded themselves reciting two poems from memory.  Ordinarily hosted in the Patti Kaltsas Arts and Education Center, this year’s recitations were videotaped and viewed online by a panel of judges who immediately scored their presentations due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Elliot Deleger ’22, who won Stratton Mountain School’s 2020 Poetry Out Loud competition and attended the Vermont Poetry Out Loud semi-final last March, presented this year’s finalist during the school’s weekly All-School Meeting.

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition for high-schoolers created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that provides pathways for students to explore, memorize, and recite classic and contemporary poems. The competition begins at the classroom level, with winners of school competitions advancing to the state finals and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, D.C. 
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Stratton Mountain School is an independent boarding and day school that focuses on college preparatory academics and competitive winter sports. Located at the base of Stratton Mountain, SMS is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools.