A world full of languages


Maggie Craig

South's language learners. Ethan Barrilleaux, RJ Craig, Haven Somerson, Katherine Yang, Christopher Efobi, Vanessa Garcia Urbana, Esther Kim, Jocelyn Somerson, Alex Van Alstyne, Grace Van Alstyne, and Dhriti Pentela compete in the Clemson poetry declamation competition. They embrace their learned languages by representing South Forsyth High School in a contest amongst other southeastern schools.

Maggie Craig, Staff writer

On Saturday, October 19th, over 400 students from the southeastern United States, including 11 students from South Forsyth, competed against each other in a world language poetry declamation contest hosted by Clemson University; the competition included various languages such as Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.

Throughout the rainy morning, a nervous air settled upon the high school and middle school students as they shuffled back and forth in the waiting room, muttering their poems to themselves. As the organizers called names, the students of SFHS remained anxiously at their desks, waiting to hear their own names.

Maggie Craig
The waiting game. Junior RJ Craig waits anxiously at his desk for his turn to recite his Spanish poem. Other students in the waiting room were pacing back and forth, whispering their poems aloud.

“I’m pretty confident because I’ve been doing this in class, but I feel like I’m going to blank out on the spot,” said junior Dhriti Pentela, “I chose to do this because I want to go out there and learn more Spanish than being in a classroom setting the entire time.”

After three hours passed, all the students and teachers played the waiting game as the judges started to tally up the scores. Uneasy chatter rose amongst the competitors as they dwelled on the small mistakes they made during their declamations. Many others enjoyed and took tours around the beautiful Clemson campus to relieve themselves of the nervous tension. 

In the afternoon, all the students and world language teachers headed to the Clemson auditorium to hear the results of the declamation competition. One by one, they called the names of competitors who placed in the event. Four SFHS students went onto the stage to receive their medals. Senior Ethan Barrilleaux won 3rd place in French 4, junior RJ Craig won 3rd place in Spanish 4, sophomore Katherine Yang won 1st place in German 2, and freshman Haven Somerson won 3rd place in French 1. 

Maggie Craig
The silent auditorium. Students sit patiently in the auditorium eager to hear the outcome of their efforts. They all held their breaths as their languages were being called out.

“I felt really hyped just knowing that my efforts into memorizing the poems really paid off, and I was able to really feel in the moment that I was successful. Again, next year, hopefully, I’ll be able to place better and maybe get first place,” junior RJ Craig expressed.