Twenty three students from the 72 semi—finalists that competed last weekend have advanced to Sunday's State Finals in the national Poetry Out Loud (POL) spoken word competition.


(Boston) — Twenty—three students from the 72 semi—finalists that competed last weekend have advanced to Sunday's State Finals in the national Poetry Out Loud (POL) spoken word competition. Sunday's winner will receive an all—expenses—paid trip to Washington, DC to compete in the National Finals May 13—15. The Huntington facilitates the Massachusetts competition with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The State Finals, held Sunday, March 11, will begin at 9:30am at the Old South Meeting House (301 Washington Street, Boston), site of the historic meeting of colonists that led to the Boston Tea Party and a continued haven of free speech today. The competition is free and open to the public.

Competing students include:

    Haley Berube, Doherty Memorial High School (Worcester)
    Molly Brennan, Sturgis Charter Public School East (Hyannis)
    Ashly Brun, Malden High School (Malden)
    Christa Celestin, Revere High School (Revere)
    Liliana Costa—Smith, Meridian Academy (Brookline)
    Meredith Derecho, Lincoln—Sudbury Regional High School (Sudbury)
    Rebekah Dowdell, Springfield Central High School (Springfield)
    Noelani Gabriel, Springfield High School of Science and Technology (Springfield)
    Micaela Garrison—Desany, Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School (Marlborough)
    Nicholas Gilfor, Wilbraham and Monson Academy (Wilbraham)
    Dariana Guerrero, Math, Science & Technology High School at Lawrence High (Lawrence)
    Stephanie Igharosa, Randolph High School (Randolph)
    Ezra Marcus, Monument Mountain Regional High School (Great Barrington)
    Diana Milkey, Sturgis Charter Public School West (Hyannis)
    Michaela Murray, John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science (Roxbury)
    Meredith Omer, Acton—Boxborough Regional High School (Acton)
    Aurelia Paquette, Boston Latin School (Boston)
    Sarah Pizzano, Stoneham High School (Stoneham)
    Chelsea Rivera, Global Learning Charter Public School (New Bedford)
    Danielle Robbins, Algonquin Regional High School (Northborough)
    Emma Rogalewski, Falmouth Academy (Falmouth)
    Jessica Seng, Dracut Senior High School (Dracut)
    Ariana Yates, Worcester Technical High School (Worcester)


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.

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.

The Finals will be 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


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


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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