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Monday, March 21, 2011

Poetry Out Loud State Finals Winners Announced

For immediate release
15 March 2011

Shannon McCullam of Box Elder High School wins state Poetry Out Loud finals
Alyssa Hall of North Sanpete High School named runner up in high school student poetry recitation contest

SALT LAKE CITY — Shannon McCullam of Box Elder High School in Brigham City took home top honors from the state finals for the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest presented by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums Monday, March 14, 2011 at the Black Box Theatre in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. McCullam will receive $200 and travel expenses to represent Utah in the national championship in April in Washington D.C. Her school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Runner-up Alyssa Hall from North Sanpete High School in Ephraim will receive $100 with $200 for her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a $20,000 college scholarship to the National Champion.

The ten finalists participated in a two-week poetry curriculum and won their classroom and school competitions in order to advance to the March 14 Utah state finals. They memorized and prepared three works selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems. Each contestant performed two of their three chosen works, with finalists competing in an additional round with their third poem.

”Poetry has really helped me with diction, stage presence and interest in poetry,” said participant Michael Junkins of Judge Memorial, one of several students who reported a new appreciation of poetry. “I liked poetry before, but now I think it is fantastic. Now I write poetry.” Three-time finalist Lexi Crandal, from Karl G Maeser Prep Academy, agreed saying, “I think this poetry competition is about appreciation, and people need to listen more.” “Poetry means something now,” added Stephen Holder of Orem High School, “It’s not just words on a page. When I get poetry assignments in school, now I say ‘What would I see if I was reading this to people?’ Poetry is performance now.”

State finalists competing at the Rose Wagner included:
Stephen Holder, Senior, Orem High School
Alyssa Hall, Senior, North Sanpete High School
Michael Junkins, Senior, Judge Memorial
Lexi Crandal, Junior, Karl G Maeser Preparatory Academy
Mandi Lopshire, Sophomore, Merit Academy
Samara Wells, Senior, Monticello High School
Shannon McCullam, Junior, Box Elder High School
Erica Farnes, Senior, Bountiful High School
Austin Brose, Sophomore, Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science
Camilla Rifleman, Junior, Christian Heritage High School

“We are proud of our state finalists,” said Guy Lebeda, Literary Arts Manager and Poetry Out Loud Coordinator for the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. “Their articulate and thoughtful renditions of these great literary works were delightful to watch. We congratulate each of them on the analytical and public speaking skills they have cultivated as they studied Poetry Out Loud in their schools—skills they will carry with them throughout their lives in any profession they choose to pursue.”

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums’ Poetry Out Loud, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers across the nation by capitalizing on trends in poetry-recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, the spoken word, and theatre in the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

“Arts education is essential to raising America’s next generation of creative thinkers,” said NEA chairman Rocco Landesman. “The NEA is proud to provide leadership in arts education through high-quality national education programs like Poetry Out Loud.”

For more information or for details about participating in next year’s Poetry Out Loud, visit the Division of Arts & Museums website at www.artsandmuseums.utah.gov or contact Wendi Hassan at whassan@utah.gov, 801.860.6396.

Caption information:
#1 (left to right) Austin Brose, Lexi Crandal, Shannon McCullam, Michael Junkins, Stephen Holder, Alyssa Hall, Samara Wells, Camilla Rifleman, Erica Farnes, Mandi Lopshire
#2 Shannon McCullam
#3 Erica Farnes

About the Utah Division of Arts & Museums
The Utah Division of Arts & Museums is a division of the Utah Department of Community and Culture with a goal to promote innovation in and the growth of Utah’s arts and culture community. The Division provides funding, education, and technical services to individuals and organizations statewide so that all Utahns, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or economic status, can access, understand, and receive the benefits of arts and culture. Additional information on the programs and services can be found at www.artsandmuseums.utah.gov or by calling 801.236.7555.

About Poetry Out Loud
The National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and state arts agencies work together to bring Poetry Out Loud to high schools across the United States. After successful pilot programs in Washington, DC, and Chicago, the second phase of Poetry Out Loud was launched nationwide in the spring of 2006 with tens of thousands of students participating. In 2009 nearly 325,000 students participated. More information about Poetry Out Loud can be found at www.poetryoutloud.org.

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