(Boston) – Randolph High School sophomore Rose-Darla Pascal was named Massachusetts’s 2017 Poetry Out Loud Champion Sunday at Boston’s Old South Meeting House. She bested 23 other finalists to earn the top honor. First runner-up was Brianna Bennett, a senior from Hull High School, and second runner-up was Janae Beaver, a sophomore from Salem Academy Charter School.

Pascal receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC where she will compete in Poetry Out Loud’s National Finals April 24 - 26. The Huntington Theatre Company’s Department of Education has facilitated the competition locally with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for 12 years, since the program began. The program is facilitated nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

The top seven finalists also included Ben Cohen, a junior from Needham High School, Ashley Gray, a junior from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, Bridget Olson, a junior from Longmeadow High School, and Ffion Titmuss, a senior from Franklin High School.

More than 23,000 students competed in recent months in classroom and school-wide competitions, which resulted in 76 school winners advancing to semi-final competitions in Boston, Framingham, Springfield, and Cape Cod on March 4 and 5. This year Massachusetts ranked 3rd in the nation for number of students participating in Poetry Out Loud and 3rd in the nation for number of teachers participating. This is the eighth year in a row Massachusetts has achieved a top-5 national ranking for student, school, and/or teacher participation. Poetry Out Loud 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 12 years ago, the competition has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry.

Huntington Theatre Company Manager of Education Operations Meg O’Brien reflects on the state competitions, “Poetry Out Loud is an astonishingly powerful and inspiring program. Everyone in the Huntington’s Education Department feels lucky to have an opportunity to showcase the creative talents of the young people of Massachusetts through this recitation contest. Not only were we able to honor the talents of our finalists, we also welcomed their friends, families, and teachers to the Old South Meeting House, where the power of spoken word is celebrated and on display. We continue to be thankful to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for ensuring this program is available for free to all of our students and teachers in Massachusetts.”

About Poetry Out
Recitation and performance are major 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

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About the Huntington Theatre Company:
Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. The Huntington 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 has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert our current theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council:
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.

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