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Letters to the Editor - April 2

April 02, 2011

Poetry Out Loud competition was a great experience

To the editor:

This past fall, I had the opportunity to take part in the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Project. As a teenager, you could imagine my enthusiasm when my English teacher told us we would have to memorize a poem as our next assignment. Even though it was for possible scholarship money, my classmates and I seemed less than interested.

In November, our school held a competition to determine the top three students who would go on to represent our school at the Washington County level. All students from 10th through 12th grades were to recite their poems in front of the high school. For a small school like Heritage, this would only take a little over an hour. Although recitation was “optional,” our English teacher not only encouraged us to recite our poems, but also bribed us with extra credit. I was one of the students who was against saying my poem in front of my high school, extra credit or no extra credit. When they called my name, I quietly went to the front and told my teacher I had decided not to recite my poem. She seemed confused, and the more I tried to say no, the more she kept making no not an option. To make a long story short, I recited the poem, “My Grandmother’s Love Letters” by Hart Crane, in front of my high school.

The next day, they announced the three students who would be advancing to the county level. They read the first-place winner, second-place, and then the third-place winner, me! I was stunned. There I was, advancing to the next round, the girl who had not even planned to say her poem.

Along with advancing came more poetry for the January contest. This involved three poems, one pre-20th century, one 25 lines or less, and one of our choosing. I still was not thrilled with the whole poetry idea, but as I started to memorize my poems, I began to really understand what each poet was saying, and how, at first, what to me seemed like nonsense, really made it possible for a person’s mind to be open to hearing things in a different way — to see, and understand things in a different perspective.

At the Washington County competition, I, along with another student from Heritage, Kathleen Kidd, advanced to the regional competition in February. At the regional competition, there were many talented students who recited beautiful poetry. Neither Kathleen nor I advanced to the next round.

Although I probably will not spend my free time reading Edgar Allen Poe, I enjoyed this experience much more than I thought I ever would, and cannot wait until next year’s competition.

Stephanie M. O’Brien
Hagerstown

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Hershey tribute set record for attendance, raises $164,400

To the editor:

On Friday evening, March 25, Jack and Anna Hershey were honored for their service and generosity to our community at a gala tribute held at Hagerstown Community College’s (HCC) Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

The Hersheys were toasted by family members, Karen Spessard and John R. Hershey III, and were presented with a governor’s citation and a certificate of special recognition from U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin for their commitment and leadership on behalf of the Hagerstown community.

We want to thank the major sponsors of the event, the program ad sponsors, the cadre of volunteers, HCC staff and the community for supporting this fundraiser for the benefit of scholarships for HCC students.

The evening was extraordinary in that a record attendance of 570 was established along with income of $164,400, making it the largest event of its kind in the area. We are grateful for a community that supports higher education in our county, making it a great place to live, work and learn.

Lieba J. Cohen
Director of Institutional Advancement
Hagerstown Community College

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