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CATA senior takes second place at North Carolina poetry competition

Central Academy of Technology & Arts (CATA) senior, Ashline Arnaud is the runner up for the state’s Poetry Out Loud Competition. Ashline Arnaud

Held virtually in February, Poetry Out Loud is a national contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in which students select, memorize and recite three poems before a panel of judges. The competition begins at the classroom level, advances to a school-wide competition followed by a county-wide competition.  From the county level, two contestants can compete at the state level. From all counties across the state of North Carolina, Ashline placed as the runner-up for the state. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the competition was held virtually and contestants submitted videos of their recitation.

With just a couple of weeks to prepare for the competition, Ashline memorized and recited three poems: "In School-Days" by John Greenleaf Whittier, "BLK History Month" by Nikki Giovanni, and Haiti” by Jennifer Rahim.

Ashline expressed that she really wanted to choose poems that she could feel and that would draw out some emotions and relate to. "It was easy to choose poems because 'BLK History Month' and 'Haiti', are concepts that are really important to me." 

While memorizing and preparing for the competition, Ashline would check in with her English teacher, Sarah Henry and theater teacher, Casey Starkey to recite the poems for them and get feedback.

Ashline is a member of the theater academy at CATA. She says that the skills she learned from the theater academy helped her to memorize the poems for the competition.

“It’s so fulfilling to have students who are willing to engage in such a thorough way, with the greatest literary art form that human beings have, which is poetry,” said Sarah Henry, Ashline’s English teacher at CATA. “I’m intensely proud and impressed with how well Ashline has done.”

As runner up, Ashline was awarded a cash prize and earned CATA a stipend to buy poetry books for student use. In the event that the state-wide winner is unable to compete in Washington, D.C., Ashline will compete nationally for a $20,000 scholarship prize while representing North Carolina.

“I just want to encourage other students to find poetry that relates to them or that relays a specific message because poetry and the arts are really important. Everyone should be incorporating it into their everyday lives,” added Ashline.

After graduation, Ashline plans to study theater and double major in marketing or business management.

To see Ashline Arnaud recite, "BLK History Month" by Nikki Giovanni, click here.


Published March 15, 2021