Boston, MA — Stephanie Igharosa of Randolph High School was named Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud (POL) Champion at the State Final competition on Sunday, March 11. Igharosa competed against 22 others in the final round to win the title. She advances to the National Final competition in Washington, DC May 13 — 15 where she will compete against all other state winners. Igharosa performed "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson, "The Man with the Hoe" by Edwin Markham, and "The Blues Don't Change" by Al Young.
Rebekah Dowdell of Springfield Central High School was named First Runner-Up; Noelani Gabriel of Springfield High School of Science and Technology was named Second Runner-Up. Meredith Derecho (Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury), Michaela Garrison-Desany (Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School, Marlborough), and Danielle Robbins (Algonquin Regional High School, Northborough) placed in the top 6.
In recognition of her win, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Igharosa a $200 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid ttrip to Washington, DC to compete in POL's final round. First runner-up Dowdell received a $100 cash prize from the NEA. The top three finalists received Kindles from the Huntington Theatre Company. All 23 finalists receive prizes including a full year's subscription to Ploughshares poetry magazine published by Emerson College. Randolph High School and Springfield Central High School will receive $500 and $200 respectively to purchase poetry books for their libraries.
A record 20,000 students from 81 Huntington-supported high schools across the Commonwealth competed in recent months in classroom and school-wide competitions. A complete list can be found at the end of this release. Seventy-two school winners advanced to one of four regional semi-final rounds.
Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national recitation competition that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating self—confidence and an appreciation of students' literary heritage as they take poetry from the page to the stage. Since its inception seven years ago, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry.
The Finals were hosted by playwright, filmmaker, and performing artist Mwalim, who will also perform, along with poet Dr. Daniel Thomas Moran. Massachusetts Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair of Joint Committee on Education, will speak. The Finals will be judged by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro (Before I Leave You); Michael Curry, attorney and president of the Boston NAACP; teacher and dancer Mayra Hernandez; and poet and professor of dentistry Moran. Huntington Overseer Katherine Jones will serve as Prompter.
"Poetry Out Loud creates an incredibly powerful sense of community in our school," says Burlington High School English teacher Benjamin Lalley. "For weeks after the competition, I still hear students telling each other, 'You did a great job. You really knocked that one out.' From performers to student athletes to ESL students, everyone gets engaged in our school—wide celebration of poetry."
"The Huntington is proud to lead Massachusetts' support of Poetry Out Loud," says Huntington Theatre Company Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "Its growth over the years speaks to its success. Poetry Out Loud provides a forum for the next generation of orators and creative voices to be heard."
Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip—hop music. Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theatre into the English class. The NEA and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with state arts agencies to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self—confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Huntington sponsor the Massachusetts contest; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation sponsor the competition on the national level.
Learn more about Poetry Out Loud at huntingtontheatre.org/pol.
Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston's leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award—winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. The MCC is committed to building a central place for arts and culture in the everyday lives of communities across the Commonwealth. The Council pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.
2012 Participating High Schools:
Acton Boxborough Regional High School
Algonquin Regional High School
Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School
Amherst Regional High School
Avon Middle High School
Barnstable High School
Boston Adult Technical Academy
Boston College High School
Boston Latin School
Brookline High School
Burlington High School
Codman Academy Public Charter School
Covenant Christian Academy
Dartmouth High School
Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School
Doherty Memorial High School
Dracut Senior High School
East Boston High School
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Everett High School
Fairhaven High School
Fitchburg High School
Framingham High School
Francis W Parker Charter Essential School
Global Learning Charter Public School
Groton—Dunstable Regional High School
Harwich High School
Haverhill High School
Hingham High School
Humanities and Leadership Development High School at Lawrence High School
The John Dewey Academy
John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science
Leominster High School
Lincoln—Sudbury Regional High School
Malden High School
Masconomet Regional High School
Math, Science & Technology High School at Lawrence High
Melrose High School
Meridian High School
Minnechaug Regional High School
Monument Mountain Regional High School
Mt. Everett Regional High School
Needham High School
Newburyport High School
Newton North High School
New Mission High School
Old Rochester Regional High School
Peabody Veterans Memorial High School
Pittsfield High School
Presentation of Mary Academy
Prospect Hill Academy Charter School
Provincetown High School
Putnam Vocational Technical High School
Randolph High School
Revere High School
Rockland High School
Salem Academy Charter School
Saugus High School
South Hadley High School
South Shore Charter Public School
Springfield Central High School
Springfield High School of Science & Technology
Stoneham High School
Sturgis Charter Public School East
Sturgis Charter Public School West
Swampscott High School
Tyngsborough High School
Waltham High School
West Springfield High School
Westfield High School
Whitman—Hanson Regional High School
Wilbraham and Monson Academy
Wilmington High School
Worcester Technical High School