Abby Palin and Lucy Falso
On Thursday, Oct. 27, four high school students from Onondaga County performed original poems at Schine Underground for the chance to win a first place prize of $500 and a second place prize of $250. They performed their poems in front of a panel of three judges made up of Syracuse University graduates and students in the SU Poetry Society.
Jamesville-DeWitt High School juniors Celia Reistrom and Michale Schueler were two of the four finalists to compete in Slam For Scholarship. The other two finalists were from Cicero- North Syracuse and Nottingham high schools. Reistrom came in first place, winning the grand prize of $500, while Schueler came in second place winning $250.
English teacher Courtney Romeiser went to the poetry slam to support her two students and enjoyed the experience. “I really thought that all of the finalists were excellent selections and they all lived up to expectations,” said Ms. Romeiser, “but I was really proud of our J-DHS students and it was above and beyond what I had expected.”
Ms. Romeiser described the scenery of the competition where the girls performed their poems. “It was dark with a spotlight and there was music,” said Ms. Romeiser, “and there were people who spoke in between.”
Reistrom didn’t know what to expect going into the competition and was very surprised when she learned that her poem won. “I was grateful, because it was my first time reading something out loud and it gave me more confidence that my stuff was actually good,” said Reistrom. She thought the experience was very rewarding and liked how the competition was set up.
Reistrom became interested in poetry at the beginning of sophomore year and her friends strongly influenced her love for poetry. Reistrom was anxious about performing her poem for an audience prior to the competition. Her original poem was about an anorexic girl dealing with her reflection and the disease.
Before the competition, Schueler was excited about performing her poem in front of an audience. “I was in the drama show last year, so I really love it,” said Schueler, “I think it gives me a chance to show the world what I value.” For her original poem, she wrote about her perspective on how people should focus on the life they have left to live. “I wrote about the nature of time and how it affects us,” said Schueler, “and how we should count up versus how we count down our days.” Schueler had no comment about the second performance.
When Schueler was just 2 years old, she discovered her interest in poetry through the influence of her dad and uncle who are both poets. Although she had experience with poetry from her relatives, she was still shocked to discover that she was one of the four finalists. “I thought that they were looking for something a bit more… poetic,” said Schueler. “I wasn’t sure if my poem sounded like a slam poem, so I was surprised.”
J-DHS is very proud to have such talented poets within the community. Schueler and Reistrom represented J-DHS well with their hard work and dedication.