Arizona High School Students Excel in Poetry

Arizona High School Students Excel in Poetry



Nearly 10,000 high school students throughout the state participated in Poetry Out Loud in the 2016-17 school year. Last weekend, the Arizona Commission on the Arts presented the 12th Annual Arizona Poetry Out Loud state finals competition at the downtown Phoenix studios of Arizona PBS, where high school students had the chance to compete in a national poetry recitation contest.

Nine Arizona high school students competed in the poetry recitation contest for a chance to represent Arizona at the 12th Annual Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C.

The Poetry Out Loud program is made possible in Arizona thanks to a partnership between the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and several regional and local organizations.  The contest encourages youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation and gives them the opportunity to develop public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

The program uses a pyramid structure that begins in classrooms before winners advance to a school-wide competition. Then there’s regional and state-level competitions, and ultimately, poets can head to the National Finals.

The 2017 Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finalists are:

  • Paul Cassidy, Brophy College Preparatory, Phoenix
  • Chaiah Durst, Sedona Red Rock High School, Sedona
  • India Harris, Desert View High School, Tucson
  • Tillie Jones, Willow Canyon High School, Surprise
  • Drew Kolber, Herberger Young Scholars Academy, Glendale
  • Amanda Rambert, American Leadership Academy Ironwood Campus, San Tan Valley
  • Kellen Vu, Arizona School for the Arts, Phoenix
  • Sophie Weinzinger, Coconino High School, Flagstaff
  • Olivia Wrenn, Sonoran Science Academy, Tucson

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, (with an adult chaperone) to compete at the National Finals. The state winner’s school also benefits, as they receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up receives $100 and his or her school receives $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

The finals were recorded and will premiere on Arizona PBS channel 8.1 on Friday April 7th, 2017 at 9:30 pm.

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