Area Students to Represent Northern Illinois in State Poetry Competition

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Two area high school students will represent Northern Illinois in the State Poetry Out Loud Competition that will be held in Springfield on Friday, March 8, 2013. Anna Lepke (Jefferson High School) was the winner; Caitlin Harmon (Auburn High School) was first runner up. Stephan Jimenez (Jefferson High School) is the alternate.

The winner of the state competition advances to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on April 28-30, 2013 in Washington, DC, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed. The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington (with an adult chaperone) to complete at the National Finals. The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The runner-up will receive $100; his or her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books. A total of $50,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends will be awarded at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship award for the National Champion.

The Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest is a free national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Poetry Out Loud encourages youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, which help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary heritage. Last year over $100,000 in prizes was awarded to students and schools. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

The Rockford Area Arts Council was one of seven organizations throughout the state that was asked to hold Poetry Out Loud regional competitions. The competition was held at Jefferson
High School. Volunteer judges for the event were: Tim Murphy, Katherine Hopkins, Dylan Garcia, Marcus Lara, David Causey and Carole Carbone. Chief Tabulators were Carole Carbone
and Sharon Nesbit-Davis and Chan Mei Yu served as prompter. Local poet, Christopher Sims was the MC and host of the event.

Sharon Nesbit-Davis, Education/Engagement Director of the Rockford Area Arts Council was the regional coordinator. “We were highly impressed with the student presentations this year and pleased to have five schools participate. We hope more will join us in 2014.” Teachers interested in learning more about Poetry Out Loud should contact Sharon at the Rockford Area Arts Council, 815-963-6765 or email:

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