ST. JOHNSBURY -- Christian Dekett, a junior from South Wheelock, has won St. Johnsbury Academy's Poetry Out Loud competition. The contest, sponsored by the Vermont Council for the Arts, is part of a national movement to encourage high school students to memorize and perform great poems. Dekett will represent the Academy at the statewide competition on March 13 at the Barre Opera House.

Each participating school determines who will represent them at the statewide contest. At the Academy, all students enrolled in the fall English classes participate as each student competes against his or her classmates.

Members of the English Department Faculty use a rubric to determine the top 20 who go on to compete in the Graham Newell Declamation Contest. The top four participants in the Graham Newel Declamation Contest then compete during morning Chapel for the right to represent the school at the state level.

Each state sends a winner to the national competition in Washington, DC. Participants in the national competition receive an all expenses paid trip and will compete for a grand prize of $20,000.

Declamation has long been part of the Academy's history. During the 19th Century, seniors had to recite a poem at graduation, and cognitive researchers continue to confirm the benefits of declaiming poems as a key part of the learning process. Dekett advanced to the state competition by reading Carl Sandburg's "I Am the People, The Mob."

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