Meet the 2024 Great Hearts Bard

Great Hearts Academies April 16, 2024

Elinor Patient, a fourth grader at Archway Roosevelt, was named the 2024 Great Hearts Bard for her recitation of “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. Patient was one of 12 of our third through fifth grade scholars from our Great Hearts Arizona academies who recently came together for the 11th annual poetry recitation. Each student had already been through two rounds of competition at their respective schools before representing their academy at the penultimate event.

The 2024 Great Hearts Bard, Elinor P., with a microphone

After each of the Bard hopefuls recited their hand-picked poem for the panel of judges and an audience of parents, teachers, family, and friends, the Lund Center auditorium at Veritas Prep became noticeably still, as Joy Hanks, Archway Glendale Dean of Students and one of the organizers of the event announced Patient as the winner.

“When my name was called,” recalled Patient, “I could only barely believe it. I went on stage, and I had tears my eyes when I received the plaque.”

The 2024 Great Hearts Bard, Elinor P., with her plaque

Hanks explained that large gestures and boisterous interpretations don’t always produce a winning recitation. “It’s not a theatrical or dramatic portrayal,” explained Hanks. “It’s not that type of interpretation. It’s more of an ability to really make the poem come alive and move through very slight gestures, slight tones, really pulling the audience into the understanding and feeling the poem.”

The 2024 Great Hearts Bard, Elinor P., with a microphone

This is a lesson that Patient said she learned when she competed last year. Patient has won the competition at her school for the last two years, affording her two opportunities on the Lund stage for the finals. “Last year I was very dramatic,” explained Patient. “I did a lot of acting, and movements, and gestures in my voice. I emphasized things but it was not the main focus. So, this year, based on last year’s winner, we learned to focus on the voice. Gestures, they’re good, but only if they really fit.”

Hanks explained that the experienced judges use Poetry Out Loud to help determine the winning recitation. “[It’s] a scoring rubric that looks at physical appearance, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and then the overall performance. Tonight, we had four judges from our lead office who have done this before and have experience with listening to poetry and understanding it.” The judges included Brandon Crowe, Superintendent of Great Hearts Arizona, Leanne Fawcett, Executive Director of Lower Schools in Arizona, Amy Gottry, Regional Manager of Professional Development in Great Hearts Arizona, and Cammie Passey, Director of Curriculum for Lower Schools at Great Hearts Academies. Hanks served as the accuracy judge who follows along the recitation with the written poem, making sure that the students are accurate.

Panel of judges at the 2024 Bard

Patient said she loved hearing all the recitations from her fellow Bard contestants, notably from the runner up, Varsh Varun from Archway Scottsdale, who recited “I am the People, The Mob” by Carl Sandburg. “I thought his poem was really good,” she said. “I love listening to the new poems that have been worked on for so long like mine.”

The 2024 Great Hearts Bard runner-up, Varsh V., with his plaque

“I was extremely impressed tonight with the difficulty of the poems and then just the deportment and caliber of our students that recited poems tonight,” reflected Hanks. This Great Hearts event, above all, truly displays the wonder of a young life that has been exposed to the beauty of a classical education as we celebrate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty through poetry. And always remember, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

You can rewatch the 2024 Bard in its entirety below:

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The 2024 Great Hearts Bard, Elinor P., with her family

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