GRHS student takes first place in poetry recitation

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Photo Credit: Florencia Llosas

Displaying the first place award, Mrs. Kazancioglu and winner Fu Nariya proudly represented Glen Rock High School last week at the William Paterson 31st annual Orlando Saa Foreign Language Poetry Recitation Contest.

by Florencia Llosas, Staff Writer

Glen Rock High School’s ESL department brought home a first place prize in the intermediate level last week at a poetry contest hosted by a nearby university.

On Thursday, May 15th, the William Paterson University of New Jersey held the 31st annual Orlando Saa Foreign Language Poetry Recitation Contest.

Students from different schools competed at the University for Recognition. The judges evaluated participants on how well the contestants recited a specific poem for each category.

Each year, around 900 students from 50 different high schools (including Glen Rock, Ridgewood, and Hawthorne) recite their poems along different levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Native. While foreign languages have a ‘Native’ category, English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) does not.

In the past, the high school has won many other awards for Latin, Spanish, and French poetry, but not ESL. This year, however, a student won first place for the intermediate level in the ESL category for the first time.

“ESL students have won in the past, but never first place,” said Mrs. Kazancioglu, the ESL teacher who trained the winner. “I have been bringing awards [home] almost every year – not only for ESL – but never a first place.”

Fu Nariya, the winner of the prize, had never attended a poetry contest before.

The winning poem was Branches by Carl Sandburg about spring; the winner said that she identified with the last part of it since it talked about dancers. She has danced throughout her life.

I was nervous. My whole body was shaking.”

— Fu Nariya ('16)

“I was nervous. My whole body was shaking,” told Nariya of the experience. “But I felt comfortable when I stood up in the stage and, once I started to speak, I just let it go. The training absolutely helped me.”

The training she refers to is Mrs. Kazangioglu’s special way to prepare her contestants to recite poetry at the event.

“I love poetry, and I have taken a lot of workshops this year and have gotten a feel for the way it should be recited,” Mrs. Kazangioglu said. “First I have [students] memorize the poem, and then I make them rewrite it many times so they can memorize it. Then, when they come back, we discuss it, and I explain the poem word for word.”

Mrs. Kazangioglu makes certain that students can not only pronounce the words of the poem, but also that they are prepared to read it with the right tone and rhythm.

“I break it into meters so the students know where to pause. I tell them where they should inflect, so the meaning is better conveyed,” she said.