Poetry Out Loud Updates

Most of our classes have announced their winners for the in-class competitions, and our list of semifinalists will be posted on this site sometime early tomorrow. Congratulations to those of you who have finished, and good luck to anyone who has yet to participate. A reminder to all semifinalists: Mrs. Ford will hold a brief meeting after school in the cafeteria to give you some very important information about how the semifinals work, and what you should expect. The meeting will be efficient; you will be able to catch your bus.

The Huntington Theatre, the Massachusetts organizer for all Poetry Out Loud schools, wanted to pass along the following statistics and information:

This year, Burlington was one of 79 schools that participated in Poetry Out Loud (up from 68 last year), and over 20,000 students recited a poem in the competition. When you consider how our 1100+ students all performed a recitation, that means that BHS was around 5% of the entire state’s population. BHS continues to be one of the few schools in the state that participates as thoroughly as we do.

The state Semi-finals will take place on Saturday, March 2nd in Boston and Framingham;  And on Sunday, March 3rd  in Springfield and on Cape Cod. The Burlington champion will compete in Framingham on the 2nd.

Finals will take place at the Old South Meeting House, Boston on Sunday, March 10th.  

Stay tuned for more announcements regarding the semifinalists, and the judging panel for our finals.

Poetry Out Loud & Job Shadow Day? No Problem!

The English Department and Ms. Deacon wish to let everyone know that students who have signed up for a job shadow day on February 4th, and who also advance to the BHS Semifinals for Poetry Out Loud, which are also scheduled for February 4th, will be able to participate in both. Ms. Deacon will reschedule the job shadow placement to another date, which is not any difficulty at all. To make things simple, if you are signing up for the job shadowing opportunity, continue with the permission slip that says February 4th for now, but know that if you do move on to the semifinals, you will be able to recite your poem like a boss, and then later, go to a job shadow position like an employee.

Poetry Out Loud Advice from Mr. Lally

Don’t oversell your poem. Let your recitation be about the poem and not about the performance. Here’s a pair of readings of Stevie Smith’s excellent poem, “Not Waving But Drowning” – the first one projects the poem accurately, the second one reveals a performer who is working far too hard to make the poem about him. I am not encouraging monotonous, flat readings. Not at all. But don’t turn your poem into an audition tape for a 1940s radio drama.

Video #1 – Please excuse the adult contemporary jazz music and the intergalactic voyage – I’m not really sure what either adds to the poem – but note how the speaker manages to hit the emotional points of the poem without devolving into caricature or unnatural speech. Besides, she’s British, and that automatically makes the poem sound better, as we all know.

Video #2 – Note the unnatural and over-the-top tone shifts, the condescending assault on subtlety that suggests that we could not ever possibly make sense of this poem without his expert help. I sincerely doubt this reader sounds like this in his normal life. Unless he is speaking to a dog, or trying to entertain small children. Your poetry recitation is not for dogs, nor small children.

In preparing your poems, please resist watching Youtube videos of people reciting your poem. It is far more likely you will run into something like the second video here, with its overwrought theatricality. And if you do use recordings as an aid, JUST LISTEN … AVOID WATCHING THE VIDEO – it is probably filled with facial reactions that look like a silent film star at work, and have hands flapping away erratically like birds tied to a tree. Please. Think of the audience.

Spring Semester Updates

The spring semester is upon us at BHS, which means we are less than a week away from:

The return of Poetry Out Loud – the in-class competitions have begun, and will all be completed by the end of next week.

The first week of our Young Adult Fiction course, which has some amazing surprises in store.

The Creative Writing: Poetry course, which will open for the first time on Monday

The return of our Leadership and Social Change class, which did not run in the fall

And the full implementation of our Exploros vocabulary textbook/app for our freshmen.

Congratulations also to the students in our fall semester electives for completing their coursework. We hope you enjoyed your classes!


Quizlet Study Sets for Freshmen and Sophomore Vocabulary

To help prepare for the upcoming midterm exams, we have created on Quizlet a set of flashcards that covers all of the vocabulary units that will be tested on next week’s midterm exams. Those units are:

FRESHMEN: BHS Vocabulary Textbook, Unit 1, Chapters 1-9

SOPHOMORES: Word Wealth, Unit 2, Chapters 1-10

Instructions on how to use the flashcards are on the BHS Vocabulary website, and can also be found HERE. The iPad app included different types of review games, as does the online site.

Good luck with this portion of your exam!

Poetry Out Loud 2013 – GOOD LUCK STUDENTS!

As our seventh-annual Poetry Out Loud competitions get underway, with the first classroom competitions already reporting their in-house champions, the English Department wishes good luck to all of our students! You can do it! Knock them dead!

And if you wish to buy stamps to put on the letters that you are mailing to all of your friends and relatives telling them how proud of yourself you are after finishing your poem, check out THESE STAMPS from the USPS.

Amazing Data Cloud of *Books Everyone Should Read*

The people at Information is Beautiful have compiled lists of the greatest novels of all time from various sources (Pulitzer and Booker Prize winners, most frequently borrowed books from British libraries, public polling at Amazon and Goodreads, among others) and have created an impressive data cloud marking the frequency with which the most commonly checked titles appear. According to their research, the book of all books is To Kill a Mockingbird (grade nine core text). To see the entire cloud, click on the thumbnail below, and if you are feeling ambitious, count up how many YOU have read! (And if the number is lower than you’d like it to be, well then, here’s a phenomenal reading list). Enjoy!


Donate Your Unwanted Items! Three Fundraisers!

At BHS, we are currently running three fundraisers that are calling on you to get rid of some unwanted items that are sitting around the house.

COATS – Between now and January 23rd, BHS is competing to win an in-house concert by Ed Sheeran. Bring in any unwanted coats, and they will be donated to Koats for Kids.

SHOES – Bring in any used shoes – it doesn’t matter if they are in terrible condition – the proceeds go to Collab, the BHS Literary magazine. Donation boxes are in the main lobby and in the English hall, and you can bring in your donations any time. The shoes get refurbished and donated to people in need.

SMALL ELECTRONICS (Print cartridges, old cell phones) – There is a donation box set up in the main lobby – these items will be recycled by the BHS English Department – there is no deadline for this fundraiser.

Lose the clutter and donate to three worthy causes! BHS thanks you!

And Since You Are Reading Shakespeare to Become Smarter…

… why not tune in to PBS for their upcoming series, “Shakespeare Uncovered”. Here’s an extract from a description via the LA Times:

William Shakespare will get the full PBS treatment in “Shakespeare Uncovered,” a six-part series announced this week to be shown on three consecutive Friday evenings starting Jan. 25.

Each night will feature two hourlong segments, focused on one or two plays by the Bard, each with a celebrity host. The series is built on interviews with actors, directors and scholars, clips from screen versions of the plays under consideration, and live performance segments filmed at today’s Globe, and staged specifically for “Shakespeare Uncovered.”

For the entire story, CLICK HERE