Methuen High School senior Calysa Alba is the Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts 2024 runner-up – placing higher than any previous MHS competitor!

Fifty-four schools and organizations participated, and Calysa was one of 16 state finalists to compete at the Old South Meeting House in Boston last month. She won MHS’ Poetry Out Loud event in January, which advanced her to the state level.

“Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating self-confidence and an appreciation of students’ literary heritage as they take poetry from the page to the stage,” according to a press release by the Mass Cultural Council.

“It was a hard-fought competition between 16 incredibly talented students from across the Commonwealth,” MHS English Department Chair Christine Neel Dumont tells MethuenLife. “All 16 competitors performed two rounds of poems. After a break, the top five were announced. The top five then performed a third poem before the winners were announced.”

Calysa’s final winning poem was “The Ocean” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. As runner-up, she will serve as the alternate for the national competition in Washington, D.C., this month.

This is the sixth straight year Methuen has sent someone to the state finals, and this is the highest an MHS student has placed.

“Calysa’s performances were special to witness. We are all so proud of her, and of all our students for participating in Poetry Out Loud this year,” Neel Dumont said. “None of this would be possible without the dedicated efforts of the Methuen High School English Department.”

The Massachusetts chapter of Poetry Out Loud is run locally by The Huntington Education Department with the Mass Cultural Council, and nationwide by The Poetry Foundation and National Endowment of the Arts. The state champion, Ailin Sha from Boston Latin School, advances to Nationals in Washington.

This is the sixth consecutive year that MHS has had a student qualify for the state Poetry Out Loud finals. Calysta Alba’s runner-up finish is the best to date. Courtesy photo