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Nine Maryland Students Compete for State Title at 11th Poetry Out Loud

Nine Maryland Students Compete for State Title at 11th Poetry Out Loud


State Final is March 12, Winner to Represent Maryland at the National Finals in Washington D.C.

March 09, 2016Press Release

More than 9,000 Maryland students in 13 counties competed in statewide Poetry Out Loud (POL) competitions, with the strongest nine advancing through a series of school and regional contests culminating in the state finals. The Poetry Out Loud Maryland State Finals is March 12, 2016, at 1 p.m. in the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Auditorium at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The 2016 program marks the 11th year of this poetry recitation contest co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation and administered by state arts agencies across the country. The Maryland State Arts Council produces the Maryland Poetry Out Loud competition. Total student participation has reached 107,000 over the past 11 years.

The nine student finalists are:

  • Sharese Acheampong, New Town High, Baltimore County
  • Christian Farley, Patuxent High, Calvert County
  • Megan Hromek, Centennial High, Howard County
  • Hannah Kirby, Boonsboro High, Washington County
  • Jan Lomahan, Heritage Academy, Washington County
  • Danni Vitullo, Wilde Lake High, Howard County
  • Kaitlyn Wilson, Colonel Richardson High, Caroline County
  • Amy Nguyen, Saints Peter and Paul, Talbot County
  • Nick Selser, James M. Bennett High, Wicomico County

Aaron Henkin of WYPR will host the event with a performance by singer/songwriter Victoria Vox. The contest determines who moves on to the national competition.

Through POL, students learn about their literary heritage, build self-confidence, and improve their public speaking skills. Each fall, participating students select three eligible poems from the POL website, then analyze and memorize them, presenting the poems at the school competitions. Each school winner moved on to regionals in February, comprised of three rounds.

At the State Finals, a panel of four judges evaluates each recitation based on the criteria of physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance. Judges' scores are tallied after the first and second rounds, and the three top-scoring students advance to round three. The student with the highest cumulative score at the end of the third round is the 2016 POL Maryland Champion.

This year NEA is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has added a new component to the event, "Poetry Ourselves," in which State Champions may also write an original poem.

The Maryland State Champion receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Finals, May 2-4, 2016, at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. The Maryland winners' school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for his/her school library. 

"Since the first Poetry Out Loud competition began 11 years ago, more than 100,000 Maryland high school students have discovered the art of poetry recitation," said Maryland State Arts Council Executive Director, Theresa Colvin. "Poetry Out Loud is a vital aspect of Maryland's educational landscape. It has enhanced the way poetry is taught in schools and has created many future readers of classic and contemporary poetry."

The 2016 POL Maryland State Finals judges:

  • Carla Du Pree writes fiction and is a literary consultant. She is the vice-chair of the Maryland State Arts Council and served on the One Maryland One Book Selection Committee for the Maryland Humanities Council.
  • Chelsea Lemon Fetzer is a poet committed to bringing writing and arts programs to underserved communities; Fetzer founded The Create Collective Inc., a non-profit organization working to bridge the gaps between artists and social service organizations.  
  • Jonathan Katz, Ph.D., served from 1985-2014 as CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. In that capacity, he co-founded the Arts Education Partnership, the nation's coalition of more than 100 organizations for the advancement of learning in the arts, and the Cultural Advocacy Group, which is the forum through which the national cultural service organizations of the United States develop their united federal agenda. 
  • Steve Schutzman, a prize-winning playwright, poet, and fiction writer, is the author of numerous produced plays, and published poems, and stories. He is an MSAC artist-in-residence.

POL facts:

  • The states with the highest number of participating students in 2015 were New Jersey, California, Washington, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
  • More than $920,000 in prizes and school stipends were awarded in the past decade.
  • By the 2015 National Finals, more than 4.7 million students participated during the program's 10-year history.
  • The National Poetry Out Loud awards total $50,000 at the National Finals, with $20,000 awarded to the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.
  • The top three most popular poems for the 2014-15 season: "Abandoned Farmhouse" by Ted Kooser, "Across the Bay" by Donald Davie, and "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost.




Media Contact: 

Jill Kubatko

Communications Manager