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Congratulations to all of the Elliot Norton nominees! 





Gabrielle Jaques, Publicist




The Huntington Education Department brings theatre and poetry – and the skills and inspiration those foster – into young lives once again this spring through Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts, run locally in partnership with the Mass Cultural Council.


(BOSTON) – The Huntington Education Department announces sixteen student finalists in the Massachusetts chapter of Poetry Out Loud, the national recitation contest run locally by The Huntington with the Mass Cultural Council and nationwide by The Poetry Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. The state finals will take place at the Old South Meeting House on Sunday, March 10 at 10am. The state champion will advance to Nationals in Washington, DC April 30 – May 2, 2024.


The Huntington’s steadfast commitment to arts education is a core pillar of its mission and operations. Theatre education builds prosocial behavior in students, encourages empathy, improves public speaking, and develops both creative and critical thinking. These skills are particularly important for students who recently spent a significant amount of schooling time in total or partial isolation due to Covid-19. In particular, Poetry Out Loud is an incredible opportunity to empower students to find and use their voices and hone these skills that will propel them through their education and future endeavors as rising members of their community.


“Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts regularly attracts an incredibly talented and diverse population of high school students and this year was no exception,” says Huntington Director of Education Meg O’Brien. “This year’s poets changed us, inspired us, called us to action, and represented their respective schools and organizations better than ever. Sunday’s state finals will be epic and wonderful, and we are all very eager to see who claims the 2024 State Championship.”


One of the most extensive and admired programs in the country, The Huntington Education Department serves more than 30,000 students, teachers, and community organizations each year with student matinees, Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts, the national August Wilson New Voices Competition, the national True Colors’ Next Narrative Monologue Competition, school residencies in writing and performance, and other programs. Collaborators in this work include multiple Boston Public Schools, Codman Academy Charter Public School, the Goodman Theatre, the August Wilson Estate, National Endowment for the Arts, Mass Cultural Council, and many community organizations.


“Poetry Out Loud is a longstanding tradition in Massachusetts, providing students with a much-needed forum to connect with poetry and explore new avenues of creative expression,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “I am grateful to our partners at The Huntington’s Education Department for their enduring leadership in this space and for organizing another successful Poetry Out Loud contest. This event is the culmination of hundreds of hours of preparation and hard work from students, parents, teachers, and creative mentors from all corners of the state and I’m excited to celebrate our finalists who will represent the Commonwealth at Nationals next month.”


Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts has been ranked in the top 5 states for participation statistics nationally for 14 of the 19 years POL has existed.



Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest 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. Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry. Several students who have come up through The Huntington’s education program have gone on to rank in the top nine students in the national competition.


“Poetry Out Loud helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage,” says the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. “By encouraging students to study, memorize, and perform some of the most influential and timeless poems of the English language, you immerse them in powerful expression and provocative ideas.”


Regional semi-finals were held on March 2-4 in Boston, Cape Cod, Hopkinton, Newburyport, and Springfield. The state finals will determine who will go on to compete at the national level. Massachusetts State Champions have been top-9 National Finalists in 2008, 2011, 2017, 2018, and 2019.



ABOUT THE POL MASSACHUSETTS FINALISTS (in alphabetical order by school)


Finalist:                 Abigail Drumm               Agawam Senior High School

Finalist:                 Emma Jones                    Algonquin Regional High School

Finalist:                 Ailin Sha                            Boston Latin School

Finalist:                 Julia Tormena CATS     Academy Boston

Finalist:                 Charlotte French          Dartmouth High School

Finalist:                 Justa Emile                      Foxborough Regional Charter School

Finalist:                 Maria Zaki                        Franklin High School

Finalist:                 Samaris Harrigan         Hampden Charter School of Science West

Finalist:                 Emma Cervasio             Longmeadow High School

Finalist:                 Evan Hero                        Meridian Academy

Finalist:                 Calysa Alba                     Methuen High School

Finalist:                 Rim Badaoui                   Mystic Valley Regional Charter School

Finalist:                 Anna Popnikolova        Nantucket High School

Finalist:                 Ben Fogler                        Needham High School

Finalist:                 Madigan Chubb             Plymouth South High School

Finalist:                 Nicole Cedrone             Rockland High School


54 Schools and Organizations participated in Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts 2024, including: Agawam Senior High School; Algonquin Regional High School; Avon Middle High School; Barnstable High School; Boston Latin School; Burlington High School; CATS Academy Boston; Claremont Academy; Codman Academy Charter Public School; Concord Carlisle Regional High School; Dartmouth High School; Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School; Dexter Southfield School; Foxborough Regional Charter School; Framingham High School; Franklin High School; Hampden Charter School of Science West; Hopkinton Center for the Arts; Hull High School; International School of Boston; John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science; Lexington High School; LightHouse Holyoke; Longmeadow High School; Malden High School; Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School; Masconomet Regional High School; Melrose High School; Meridian Academy; Methuen High School; Minnechaug Regional High School; Montrose School; Mystic Valley Regional Charter School; Nantucket High School; Needham High School; New Heights Charter School of Brockton; Newburyport High School; Norwell High School; Plymouth North High School; Plymouth South High School; POETRY at the Care Center; Rockland High School; Roxbury Prep High School; Salem Academy Charter School; Sandwich Middle High School; South Hadley High School; South Shore Charter Public School; St. Sebastian’s School; Sutton Memorial High School; The Commonwealth School; The New England Innovation Academy; The Springfield Renaissance School; Whitman Hanson Regional High School; and Worcester Technical High School. *Formatted in alternating typeface for reading clarity.



Celebrating over 40 years of outstanding theatre, The Huntington is Boston’s theatrical commons and leading professional theatre company. On our stages and throughout our city, we share enduring and untold stories that spark the imagination of audiences and artists and amplify the wide range of voices in our community.


Under the leadership of Norma Jean Calderwood Artistic Director Loretta Greco and Executive Director Christopher Mannelli, The Huntington is committed to welcoming broad and diverse audiences, provides life-changing opportunities for students through its robust education and community programs, is a national leader in the development of playwrights and new plays, acts as the host organization for a multi-year residency of The Front Porch Arts Collective, a Black theatre company based in Boston, and serves the local arts community through our operation of The Huntington Calderwood/BCA.


The Huntington reopened the historic Huntington Theatre in fall of 2022 after its transformational renovation, and is currently in phase two of the project; the renovation and building project of this storied venue with a bold vision for the future will allow us to innovatively expand our services to audiences, artists, and the community for generations to come. For more information, visit


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