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Lend a Hand on the National Day of Service
10/27/2014 2:20 PM
Copyright 2014,

Marshall Gives Back Week is a week dedicated to the many ways that members of the Hilltopper community give, whether it is their time, talents, or resources. Alumni can get involved with Marshall Gives Back week on November 13th, which is Give to the Max Day, or on November 15th, which is when we are hoping to get people together in Duluth, the Twin Cities, Indianapolis, IN, and Austin, TX for our National Day of Service! The information for each of the volunteer locations and projects is listed below. Join in and lend a hand!

Duluth project: Damiano Center, 1:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Details: A group of 6-8 will be helping with the Clothing Exchange, including sorting and organizing
Contact: Melissa Hodge at or 218-727-7266

Twin Cities project: Bridging, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Details: A group of up to 20 will help with general warehouse assistance. Bridging is a non-profit that helps out people working to transition outof homelessness by providing basic household goods
Contact: Dave Gels '94 at

Indianapolis, IN project: Gleaner's Food Bank, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Details: A group of 8 will help at the food bank. Each attendee will get an orientation at the beginning of the shift
Contact: Jamie MacDougall '94 at

Austin, TX project: Colin's Hope, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM (Sunday, Nov. 16th)
Details: Colin's Hope is a non-profit hoping to raise water safety awareness to prevent child drownings. Volunteers will be putting together Water Safety Packets
Contact: Mari Casserberg '90 at
Poetry Out Loud
11/21/2014 10:29 AM

Marshall School is upholding a tradition set in motion in 2011; the Upper School students are participating in a nation-wide poetry movement called Poetry Out Loud. Poetry Out Loud is a recitation competition for high school students, which takes place all across the United States. The competition emerged in 2006, providing students with an opportunity to study poetry at an in-depth level. If a love for poetry isn’t enough to convince students to delve head-first into literary art, a monetary prize for state and national winners serves as good motivation.

As outlined on the official Poetry Out Loud website; each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington to compete for the national championship. The state winner's school also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

But before students have the chance to compete for money and state-wide or national success, they compete at a classroom for a chance to be Marshall’s champion. While competition is an exciting aspect of the program, it isn’t the most important. The Marshall English teachers are in agreement that nurturing an appreciation for poetry is the greatest benefit to participation in Poetry Out Loud.

“When you recite a poem, you really need to dig deep into the understanding of that poem,” said 11th grade English teacher Karen Stiles. “It’s a higher-level skill, because if you’re going to dedicate time to something we really encourage students to find something they like.”

While the end goal is the same, the English teachers have different ways of engaging their students. All students are required to choose a poem from an anthology provided by Poetry Out Loud. However, 12th grade English teacher Dr. Susan Nygaard narrows the search by asking her students to choose and memorize poems with more than 25 lines. Stiles uses different requirements.

“Length is just one element of complexity, and it was more important to me that students look at it through a deeper sense, or just a sense of appreciation,” said Stiles. 

Nathan Mattson, who is tasked with introducing the 9th grade students to Poetry Out Loud, asks his students to simply approach the program with an open mind.

“I get a little nervous, because at the beginning of the year, I worry students won’t find poetry interesting,” said Mattson. “But I think deep inside kids have poems they really like.”

Just as the requirements differ between classes, so do the methods of preparing students to perform. With classroom competition only days away, Nygaard decided to prepare her students by asking them to perform for the Middle School classes.

“A lot of times when I ask them to memorize something for class, they think they have it memorized and then they get up to perform it and they find out they haven’t got it,” said Nygaard. “One of the reasons I take them to the Middle School is to give them a real audience to perform in front of before we actually do our classroom contest. Practicing in front of younger kids is an easier way to learn ‘I don’t know this poem as well as I think I do’ and they can practice some more.”

Though specific poetry requirements and preparation methods vary between teachers, the end goals are the same: an appreciation for poetry and a lasting experience for the students.

“A lot of kids will remember the poem for many years to come, and if even just a little bit of it sticks with them, that’s fine with me,” said Nygaard.

Poetry Out Loud impacts more than just the upper-school students; the entire Marshall community is involved.

“It’s so fun to be in the hallways for two weeks hearing poetry recited aloud,” said Stiles. “It’s really cool to have poetry happen all around. You get this infusion of poetry throughout the building and it’s really awesome.”

Classroom competition will be held through Friday, November 21. The winners of the classroom competitions will advance to a school-wide competition. From there, the top Marshall performer will advance to state. David Johnson, the Upper School teacher who brought Poetry Out Loud to Marshall School, has already determined the students advancing to the finals in his classes. We will introduce you to the finalists and their poems in advance of the Marshall finals December 10.

Last year David Kamper and Jeremy Stephan performed extraordinarily well at the state competition, ending just short of advancing to Washington D.C. and the national finals.







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