‘Poetry Out Loud’ poets bring arts to the classroom

Oley Valley School District  |  Posted on

On December 3, students enrolled in English II CP and Public Speaking, along with members of the Theater Club, were treated to a special poetry presentation from three phenomenal poets: Marci Nelligan, Dominique Miller-Shell (Sir Dominique Jordan), and Tina Ortiz (Thunda Khatt). The collaboration began when Mrs. Kallis, the Poetry Out Loud (POL) advisor for Oley Valley High School (OVHS), and Mrs. Nelligan were in communications pertaining to this year’s Poetry Out Loud contest. Mrs. Nelligan is a poet and the organizer of the regional POL contest held annually at the Ware Center in Lancaster, PA. Mrs. Kallis and Mrs. Nelligan sought to provide Oley Valley’s students an opportunity to hear poets perform, discuss their creative processes and express their passion for poetry. Highly recommended by Mrs. Nelligan, Mr. Miller-Shell and Ms. Ortiz provided an exceptional and interactive presentation to the students.

Sir Dominique Jordan has a striking background. Amongst his achievements, he is an Army veteran and a highly motivated coach and educator. He identifies as an “artivist” as well as a “real model” when connecting with young people by meeting them where they are. As a community leader/organizer, public speaker, writer, loving father and husband, he is dedicated to inspiring others.

Tina Ortiz is a spoken-word artist better known as Thunda Khatt. According to Lancaster Online, “Ortiz found her spark for writing in high school, creating stories, and eventually attempting to create a ‘found musical’ using preexisting songs tied together with a created storyline.” Her expertise, passion, and performance experience enabled her to make immediate connections with the OVHS students.

All three performers discussed the POL program. “Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life,” explains poetryoutloud.org. Each participating school holds a local competition to determine which student will compete at the regional level. After the OVHS poetry presentation, interested students signed up to participate.

Additionally, the guests addressed slam poetry and presented original slam poems. Slam poetry is performance poetry. Artists write, present, and compete in poetry slams. Charlotte Fisher, a talented senior at Oley Valley, presented her own slam poem during the assembly. At the conclusion of the presentation, students were eager to begin composing their own poetry.