A Bellmore student won first place at the regional level of Poetry Out Loud, a nationwide competition that encourages youths to learn about the art form and to master public speaking through memorization and recitation.

Jaime Marvin, a Wellington C. Mepham High School senior, was among 10 high-school-level winners from Nassau County vying in the regional, held at Farmingdale State College.

"One of the judges said it looked like I understood the poems on a deeper level," said Marvin, 17. "I think some of my nervous energy helped, because I was able to channel it into the poems."

She competed at the state level in Syracuse last month but did not advance to the nationals.

Marvin said she has been writing poetry since grade school and has about five notebooks filled with her work. Her favorite poet is Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose writings she finds to be both clever and profound.

In the regional contest, Marvin recited E.E. Cummings' "I Carry Your Heart With Me (I Carry It In)," John Keats' "To Autumn" and Lisel Mueller's "The End of Science Fiction."

"Jaime is one of the stars of the building," English teacher Nicole Maresca said. "Her ability to write poems has been noticed very early on."

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Marvin is an editor for the school's literary magazine and co-captain of the cross-country winter and spring track teams.