(Courtesy photo) From left to right, Executive Director of the Wyoming Arts Council Michael Lange, NEA State and Regional Specialist Andi Mathis, Wyoming’s 2017 Poetry Out Loud State Champion Lauren Haiar, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and Director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources Darin Westby.
Lauren Haiar of Sundance Secondary School is this year’s winner of the Wyoming State Poetry Out Loud competition held in Cheyenne Monday.
Taelor Nielsen of Worland High School was named as runner-up with Carlos Gonzales of Buffalo High School receiving third place honors.
Chase Marple of Western Heritage Lutheran Academy in Riverton, Austin Brownrigg of Moorcroft High School and Ivan Baez of Summit High School of Jackson were recognized with honorable mentions.
As this year’s state champion, Haiar receives a $200 prize and an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the National Finals, April 24-26. Additionally, Sundance Secondary School received a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books.
Contestants competing in three rounds of recitation were judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
This year’s judges were Colorado poet Adrian Molina, Wyoming poet Matt Daly, Wyoming’s Poet Laureate Eugene Gagliano, and University of Wyoming student and past Poetry Out Loud contestant Sara Ellingrod.
After an evening of deliberation and a morning of poetry workshops for the participants, the judges revealed their decision at an awards ceremony on Tuesday.
Poetry Out Loud is a program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. Developed by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is a free contest for high-school students (grades 9-12) in both public and private schools. It serves every state and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The Wyoming Arts Council is proud to support and administer this program in the Cowboy State.
Participating schools were Kaycee High School, Western Heritage Lutheran Academy, Sundance Secondary School, Summit High School, Star Lane Center, Sheridan High School, Arvada Clearmont High School, Moorcroft High School, Whiting High School, Buffalo High School, Worland High School.