Massachusetts student is finalist in Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest

by:  at 05/09/2017

More than 300,000 students competed to get where Rose-Darla Pascal is today. Rose-Darla, a sophomore at Randolph High School, is one of nine top-scoring national finalists in this year's Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.

The road to Rose-Darla’s success started months ago with recitation contests at the classroom level across the state. The Huntington’s Department of Education, in partnership with the Massachusetts Cultural Council, facilitates Poetry Out Loud in Massachusetts, and this year more than 23,000 students competed for a chance to advance to the next level of the competition. Seventy-six school winners competed in four semi-final contests, and 25 of them advanced to the Massachusetts state finals where Rose-Darla Pascal emerged as the state champion.

In April, Rose-Darla received an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC to compete at the national level. She recited poems by Maya Angelou, John Donne, and Terrance Hayes, and bested over 40 other state champions to become one of nine national finalists. Her prize includes a $1,000 scholarship, plus money for her school to purchase poetry books. Other finalists were from Georgia (National Champion), Hawaii (2nd place), New York (3rd place), Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, and South Dakota.

Reflecting on her Poetry Out Loud experience, Rose-Darla says, “I have learned so much from Poetry Out Loud. Specifically, poetry is not just words on a page that people can recite. It is an experience and a story that you carry along with you for the rest of your life.  Every poem can make a difference, if only we choose to let them.”

Huntington’s Manager of Education Operations Meg O’Brien traveled to Washington, DC with Rose-Darla to support her at the national level. “Poetry Out Loud is a national treasure,” says Meg O’Brien. “The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation ensure that the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest is devoted to supporting the young people representing our country and setting them up to be as successful as possible in their recitations. Every year I watch as 53 high school students, from all walks of life, come together in a common bond. Their love of poetry is palpable, and the excitement and support they show each other is admirable.”

Do you want to experience the power of poetry? Take a moment to read one of the poems Rose-Darla recited in Washington, DC, and see how the poet’s words resonate with you today.

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou
Batter My Heart, Three-Person’d God by John Donne
The Golden Shovel by Terrance Hayes

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