Syosset Junior Takes 3rd in the Country in Poetry Recital

Syosset Junior Takes 3rd in the Country in Poetry Recital Photo
Syosset High School junior Iree Mann has done it again. Just a month after being crowned New York State champion in the 12th Annual Poetry Out Loud competition, Iree took third place in the national competition held at George Washington University in April.

POL participants are evaluated on a cumulative point total covering multiple recitations that factor in accuracy, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of the poem’s understanding, presence, and voice and articulation as well as overall performance.

For the national competition, Iree advanced through three tough rounds, reciting works “American Smooth” by Rita Dove, “The Golden Shovel” by Terrance Haynes and “Break of Day” by John Donne. She was drawn to these particular works because of their different styles that require varying degrees of emotion when reading in order capture the essence of each work.

“You grow to understand why a poet, or any director, wants you to express their emotion… express their feeling through their work,” said Iree, who is a member of the Syosset High School Forensics team and enjoys writing poetry of her own in addition to reciting others’ works. “It brings life to poems.”

Syosset High School English teacher Lydia Esslinger, who is also Iree’s adviser on the Forensics Society, accompanied her to Washington D.C. for the nationals, where she introduced Iree to one of her former students, Syosset Alumna and current U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao who is also a former Secretary of Labor. Chao and her staff were so impressed with Iree that they asked her to practice reciting her poetry to them just prior to the competition finals.

According to Esslinger, Iree has also distinguished herself as a member of the Forensics Society, most recently by qualifying as one of three students from the entire downstate area to represent New York in Dramatic Performance at the National Speech and Debate Association's national championship in Birmingham, Alabama in June, joining six other Syosset students.

Syosset Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante, said the moment Iree arrived at Syosset High School this year (relocating from California) she began making an “astonishing impact” on her classmates and friends at school.  Iree immediately began reviewing the school’s student activity list for interesting things to get involved in and was drawn to the Forensics Society, recalling how she told her mother that she had found something “awesome.”

Both POL and Forensics require a keen combination of sentiment and savvy to be successful, which Iree brings with every performance.

Iree is pictured displaying her state and national awards, as she is congratulated by Esslinger and Dr. Durante.