(FROM LEFT): Chelsea Anokye-Agyei, a Hodgson Vo-Tech senior, has a way with words.; ANOKYE-AGYEI COMPETES IN THE STATE FINALS.//PHOTOs BY JOE DEL TUFO
For most students, the thought of memorizing a poem for recitation might be low on the list of what qualifies as fun. But for Chelsea Anokye-Agyei, a senior at Hodgson Vo-Tech High School in Newark, reciting the poem “The Albatross” by Kate Bass has won her the title of state champion in the 2019 Poetry Out Loud Delaware competition.Her win at the state finals in Smyrna on Feb. 26 means she moves on to the national finals in Washington, D.C., which are held April 29-May 1.
Anokye-Agyei says she initially saw participation in Poetry Out Loud as a chance to perform. Hodgson has an active athletics department but no theater or band program.
“I think it was just a spontaneous kind of thing, because I was never a sports kind of girl,” she says. “When I saw this poetry competition, I thought, that’s something different. Why not try it?”
English teacher Chris Vella is Anokye-Agyei’s Poetry Out Loud advisor, and says ever since he’s known her, she’s tried to challenge herself.
“It’s just so exciting to see someone advance to the state and then the national finals,” he says. “I can’t wait to see her up on the stage.”
For her part, Anokye-Agyei, whose studies focus on nursing skills, is looking forward to meeting her competitors “to see how we come together and do something in common,” she says. “I’m really excited to see what people will bring from other states.”