Poetry Out Loud: 2022

Sophomore Bernadette McLain take the title as Dallastown returns to an in-person competition for the first time in two years.


Janel Stump

2022 Poetry Out Loud participants smiling for photos during the awards ceremony.

The annual Poetry Out Loud competition returned for its 14th year in the high school’s theater room on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.  The competition returned in-person for the first time after 2 years of being held virtually due to Covid-19.

There were five competitors this year: Bernadette McLain, Sage Bathgate, Molly Binkley, Savannah Waechter, and Lillian Staley.

For the school level competition, students competed in two rounds.  In each round, the competitors recited one of their chosen poems from memory.

The judges for the 2022 Poetry Out Loud competition were Kortney Williamson, Cierra Heilman, and Tiffany Dacheux. (Janel Stump)

Before the competition, Mrs. Yuninger, the competition coordinator, had to check over all of the poem selections to make sure they came from the approved list from Poetry Out Loud.  She also had to make sure that the selected poems were approved for streaming rights for any virtual competitions.

The first level of competition was held in person, but the rest of the competitions will be performed through virtual appearances.  Each type of competition requires different levels of preparation and practice.

“With a live performance, you have to try to help [the student] not only think of poetry analysis, but also about performance in front of a live group, and that’s like a whole separate skill set,”  Yuninger states.

McLain was Dallastown’s school level winner.  This was her first year competing in Poetry Out Loud, however she is following in her older siblings’ footsteps, who have competed before.

“Neither of them have won…but I can’t say they didn’t inspire me to do it more,” McLain said.

The program for the 2022 Poetry Out Loud competition featured each contestant and their two selections. (Janel Stump)

McLain won with performances of the poems “Shall earth no more inspire thee” by Emily Bronte and “The Lunar Baedeker” by Mina Loy. Her favorite was the second poem she performed.

“My older sister…had introduced it to me earlier this year.  When I decided to do Poetry Out Loud, I knew I had to choose it,” McLain explained.

McLain’s next step in the competition is regionals.  This competition will be held virtually in January. 

The regionals winner will move onto the state competition in March with the chance of making it to the national competition.  The winner of the national competition will take home the prize of a $20,000 scholarship and will set out on a year-long youth ambassador speaking tour.