(BOSTON) – Twenty-five students from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts advanced from this weekend’s four regional semi-final contests of the 12th annual Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest to compete in the State Finals on Sunday, March 12 at the Old South Meeting House (310 Washington Street, Boston). The event begins at 9:30am and is free and open to the public.

The 2017 Poetry Out Loud Massachusetts Finalists are: (listed alphabetically by school)
Kara Hadden, Algonquin Regional High School (Northborough, MA)
Eric Blair, Bishop Feehan High School (Attleboro, MA)
Xiadi Zhai, Boston Latin School (Boston, MA)
Makena Binker Cosen, Brookline High School (Brookline, MA)
Anna Kalvelage, Dana Hall School (Wellesley, MA)
Ashley Gray, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School (Yarmouth, MA)
Sophie Barowsky, Framingham High School (Framingham, MA)
Ffion Titmuss, Franklin High School (Franklin, MA)
Sierra Little-Gill, Hanover High School (Hanover, MA)
Brianna Bennett, Hull High School (Hull, MA)
Katrina McInnis, Leominster High School (Leominster, MA)
Bridget Olson, Longmeadow High School (Longmeadow, MA)
Paul Araiza, Malden High School (Malden, MA)
Helen Rahman, Masconomet Regional High School (Boxford, MA)
Clary Binns, Meridian Academy (Boston, MA)
Marya Makuc, Mt. Everett Regional High School (Sheffield, MA)
Phaedra Plank, Nantucket High School (Nantucket, MA)
Ben Cohen, Needham High School (Needham, MA)
Katrina Newfell, Newburyport High School (Newburyport, MA)
Erica Curtin, Norwell High School (Norwell, MA)
Levi Baruch, Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School (Orange, MA)
Rose-Darla Pascal, Randolph High School (Randolph, MA)
Genesis Rojas, Rockland High School (Rockland, MA)
Janae Beaver, Salem Academy Charter School (Salem, MA)
Taylor Mickens, Springfield Central High School (Springfield, MA) 

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. The 25 finalists were the top scoring contestants at their respective semi-final contests. A complete list of the 87 POL-participating high schools can be found at the end of this release.

The Huntington’s Department of Education facilitates the Massachusetts competition with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The program is facilitated nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. This year Massachusetts ranked 2nd in the nation for number of students participating in Poetry Out Loud and 2nd 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 (POL) 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. Since its inception, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry.

The Massachusetts POL State Champion will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC this coming spring to compete in the national finals. 

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.

2017 Participating High Schools:
Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School, Hyde Park
Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton
Agawam High School, Agawam
Algonquin Regional High School, Northborough
Amherst Regional High School, Amherst
Assabet Valley Collaborative High School, Marlborough
Avon Middle High School, Avon
Barnstable High School, Hyannis
Billerica Memorial High School, Billerica
Bishop Feehan High School, Attleboro
Boston College High School, Boston
Boston Latin School, Boston
British International School of Boston, Boston
Brookline High School, Boston
Burlington High School, Burlington
CATS Academy Boston, Braintree
Claremont Academy, Worcester
Codman Academy Charter Public School, Dorchester
Community Academy of Science and Health, Dorchester
Cotting School, Lexington
Dana Hall School, Wellesley
Dartmouth High School, Dartmouth
Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, South Yarmouth
Dexter Southfield School, Brookline
Dracut High School, Dracut
Duxbury High School, Duxbury
East Boston High School, East Boston
Everett High School, Everett
Foxborough Regional High School, Foxboro
Framingham High School, Framingham
Franklin High School, Franklin
Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Groton
Hanover High School, Hanover
Haverhill High School, Haverhill
Hingham High School, Hingham
Hull High School, Hull
International School of Boston, Cambridge
Ipswich High School, Ipswich
Leominster High School, Leominster
Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury
Longmeadow High School, Longmeadow
Lunenburg High School, Lunenburg
Malden High School, Malden
Mansfield High School, Mansfield
Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, Oak Bluffs
Masconomet Regional High School, Boxford
Match Charter Public School, Boston
Melrose High School, Melrose
Meridian Academy, Jamaica Plain
Methuen High School, Methuen
Milton Academy, Milton
Minnechaug Regional High School, Wilbraham
Montrose School, Medfield
Monument Mountain Regional High School, Great Barrington
Mt. Everett Regional High School, Sheffield
Nantucket High School, Nantucket
Needham High School, Needham
Newburyport High School, Newburyport
Norwell High School, Norwell
Old Rochester Regional High School, Mattapoisett
Oliver Ames High School, North Easton
Pelham Academy, Lexington
Pembroke High School, Pembroke
Pentucket Regional High School, West Newbury
Pittsfield High School, Pittsfield
Plymouth North High School, Plymouth
Plymouth South High School, Plymouth
Presentation of Mary Academy, Methuen
Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School, Orange
Randolph High School, Randolph
Revere High School, Revere
Rockland High School, Rockland
Salem Academy Charter School, Salem
Saugus High School, Saugus
Sharon High School, Sharon
Sizer School, Fitchburg
South Hadley High School, South Hadley
Springfield Central High School, Springfield
Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield
Sturgis Charter Public School East, Hyannis
Swampscott High School, Swampscott
Tabor Academy, Marion
Westfield High School, Westfield
Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, Whitman
Wilbraham and Monson Academy, Wilbraham
Willow Hill School, Sudbury
Quincy Catholic Academy, Quincy (Middle School, School-Level Participation only)

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