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Stephanie Igharosa of Randolph High School is Massachusetts Poetry Out Loud Champion.

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."

ABOUT POETRY OUT LOUD: POETRYOUTLOUD.ORG

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.

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY: HUNTINGTONTHEATRE.ORG

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.

ABOUT THE MASSACHUSETTS CULTURAL COUNCIL: MASSCULTURALCOUNCIL.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
    Artovotion/Teen Empowerment
    Avon Middle High School
    Barnstable High School
    Berkshire School
    Boston Adult Technical Academy
    Boston College High School
    Boston Latin School
    Brookline High School
    Burlington High School
    Claremont Academy
    Codman Academy Public Charter School
    Covenant Christian Academy
    Dartmouth High School
    Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School
    Dexter 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 
    Falmouth Academy 
    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 
    Southfield School 
    Sparhawk 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

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