Declamation event powerful tool for students

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Elementary school students in Socorro and Magdalena are subject to declamation.
What is that?
School declamation participants choose something to memorize and present to an audience. They can choose serious or humorous pieces and poetry or prose.
Some use props and some recite in costume, some do both.
As each participating young person gets up to share something they have memorized, silence falls. The audience hushes because they really want to hear what these young people have to say.
Declamation does so much, plays so many roles for these students. It begins a public speaking tradition, encourages reading, explores literature and broadens the world of possibilities. It provides an outlet, a project and something to be part of.
Not only is declamation a chance for individuals to shine but it’s an opportunity for those who may not be so shiny to be respected for the work they put in and the ideas they choose to share.
The subjects the students choose are all important to the human condition from the global to personal. Students at the Socorro finals recited pieces from the love for a mother to a letter from the earth pleading for understanding and caretaking.
Declamation is about strengthening our children. It’s about scope and possibility. It’s about the great moments in the world and the strength of human kindness. It’s about stories and sharing our existence with each other.
Even the smallest of our new generation, the kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders, have important messages and have been offered a way to share those messages through declamation. Their recitations ranged from “Ferdinand the Bull,” about being different in a world with certain expectations to the preamble to the Constitution of the United States.
The score sheet provided to the judges is not simple or inconsiderate. In fact, everything is considered from personal qualities to material organization to delivery. Scores are set for appearance, poise, audience appeal, suitability for grade level, originality, length for grade level, appropriate division, the introduction, expression, eye contact, memorization, enunciation and voice projection.
Associate superintendent Janice Argabright said Socorro schools have been holding a yearly declamation contest for at least 30 years now.
“It’s a great confidence-building event,” Argabright said.
The children are not only voices but thoughts and ideas. They are pushing pieces of what is important to them out into the world. And if sometimes the process is excruciating and the words fly away in a crush of silence, still there is support and encouragement for those who have tried.
The Socorro schools declamation finals took place Nov. 14 and 15. See the winners on Page 3 of today’s paper.