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The student news site of Baldwin High School

The Purbalite

The student news site of Baldwin High School

The Purbalite

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Ojo draws on experience to win Poetry Out Loud competition

Seth Franco
Senior Tom Ojo was the first-place winner at Baldwin’s 2023 Poetry Out Loud competition.

After some recent health issues, senior Tom Ojo found a poem he could relate to, and then he performed a reading of it to win Baldwin’s Poetry Out Loud competition.

The competition required students to choose a poem they were passionate about, rehearse their reading, and perform it in front of four judges. A total of 43 Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition students participated in the event.

Ojo chose the poem “Bereavement” by William Lisle Bowles.

“The poem is about an individual that is grieving. They are reminiscing about the past – about the things that they had that were great,” Ojo said.

He said the poem spoke to him, given some health issues he has faced.

“I chose this poem because the last two to three months have been rough. I was admitted to the hospital in November for three weeks for an ulcer and a hernia. I was basically immobilized,” Ojo said. “I related the loss that the individual had, remembering past actions, and knowing that what they had is no longer there.”

Ojo’s performance helped him fight through his struggle.

“It was the first time in months I had done something healthy, well, and it made me feel successful. I felt in that moment that I’ve done something that I’m going to remember,” Ojo said.

English teacher Krystal Schulte, who organized the event, complimented Ojo’s performance.

“His confidence was impressive. He has a great performance voice – it’s memorable,” Schulte said. “He varies his tone to match the emotions of the poems.”

The four judges for the event were Assistant Principals Brandon Whitfield and Denise Wells, as well as gifted teachers Jared Hoffman and Dan Shaner.

Ojo now moves on to the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition in February, where he will perform three poems of his choice.

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Seth Franco, Multimedia Editor
Multimedia Editor Seth Franco is a senior in his third year on the Purbalite. When he's not writing, he often practices the drums, plays tennis, and sketches. 
Sean Galentine, Multimedia Editor
Multimedia Editor Sean Galentine is a junior in his second year on the Purbalite. He can usually be found listening to music or playing games.
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