Oral Interp


A fun way to experience the art of public speaking

Here’s how it works:

Oral Interpretation is open to all grade levels. Individual students (no groups) should select and memorize a piece of poetry or prose and prepare an interpretative presentation, a maximum of 2 minutes in length, at home. Students then get to perform their selections at a school assembly.  This program has always been a huge success at the Bergens.


     Choose one poem or short piece between 4-20 lines long. Need suggestions? Bill Martin Jr., Justin Matott, Jack Prelutsky, Alan Katz, Ken Nesbitt, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, A.A. Milne, nursery rhymes, patriotic speeches. Please NO lists of states, presidents, capitals.

     Registration will open on Friday, October 13th and remain open until Sunday, October 29th at midnight. Registration is now closed.

     When registering, be sure to include the name of the selection, the author, and a copy of the piece. Late or incomplete registrations cannot be accepted.

     Memorize your selection (no singing please).

     Students will attend rehearsal during school hours.

     Student will perform your piece on stage at a school assembly. You will be allotted a maximum of 2 minutes on stage. Parents are invited to attend. 

     Receive feedback from the judges on your presentation. See the Coaching and Judging criteria.

     Every participant at both schools will receive a medal for participation.

     3rd, 4th and 5th grades will have 1st, 2nd & 3rd place trophy winners.


Key dates to remember:


Dates for  2017

Bergen Meadow

Bergen Valley

Friday, October 13

Registration open online

Registration open online

Sunday, October 29

Registration deadline - midnight

Registration deadline - midnight

Friday, November 3                                     

Registration confirmations sent via email

Registration confirmations sent via email

Wednesday, November 15

In-school Rehearsal  2:15-3:15 pm, by grade

In-school Rehearsal- 8:45-9:30, by grade

Thursday, November 16

Event in the morning* 

K- 9:15, 1st - 9:50, 2nd -10:30 


Friday, November 17


Event in the morning* 

3rd -9:00, 4 th -10:20, 5 th 11:15


*Duration is subject to change based on number of participants; dates and times are subject to change, based on needs of the schools. What is shown above is accurate as of October 21, 2017.


If you have any questions or do not receive the registration confirmation by November 3rd, please contact: Abby Hugill at abbyhugill@gmail.com.



Coaching and Judging Guidelines


Props & Costumes

Oral Interpretation is about the art of public speaking and often props are distracting. Participants should not depend on a prop to perform their piece, but should they choose to use one, it must be brought to rehearsal for approval. Simple costumes and/or hand-held props may be allowed, but are not encouraged.


Memorize your piece at home. Work to keep it under two minutes long. During the performance, there will be a prompter backstage should your child forget or get stuck.

Audience interest

Present the poem in a way that tells a story and keeps the audience’s interest.


Pronounce words clearly.


Speak slowly. There is a tendency to pick up the pace on stage.

Voice Projection & Intonation

Even though the children will have a microphone, encourage them to project their voices out into the room.

− Speak loudly so that everyone can hear

− Alter volume and pitch

− Beware of sounding monotone

Stage Presence

Students must introduce themselves and state the name and author of their piece.

− Be confident

− Use good posture and poise

− Do not fidget

− Practice in front of a mirror or with a video camera

When they are finished, they should pause; take a step to the side; and bow.

Facial Expression & Gestures

Encourage and demonstrate appropriate movements, gestures, or voice changes. Let the actions help tell the story.

− Use facial expressions to add to the story

− Use body language to add to the presentation

Eye Contact

Have the child maintain eye contact with you while practicing. It may also help to have them look at the back of the room.

− Engage the audience through eye contact