Thursday July 25, 2024
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Twenty-three Kentucky schools will send students to compete on March 7 for the title of state champion in the Poetry Out Loud statewide competition.

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The competition starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to schoolwide competition, then to the state competition in March at the Grand Theatre in Frankfort. The state champion will represent Kentucky at the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 25-26 in Washington, D.C.

A group of storytellers, poets and stage performers from the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artists Directory will be visiting each of the participating schools to mentor students on how to improve their recitations.

Among the 23 schools is Central Hardin High School in Cecilia. This will be Central Hardin’s second year in the statewide competition, and Kathy Thompson, Central Hardin arts and humanities teacher, said Poetry Out Loud provides a different method of artistic expression than what is in most school curriculums.

“The arts are important. Student performance is important. We have lots of kids in band, chorus and doing drama, and those are wonderful, but this is a different genre, and it focuses on the poetry,” Thompson said. “It’s performance, but it’s about the poetry. This allows them to delve into specific poems they can really learn and go beyond the words.

“Poetry Out Loud gives students a purpose for studying poetry,” she added. “They pick the poetry apart to find the meaning, and then they perform it.”

Participating schools are:

  • Allen County-Scottsville High School, Scottsville
  • Augusta Independent Schools, Augusta *
  • Barbourville High School, Barbourville *
  • Betsy Layne High School, Stanville
  • Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green *
  • Boyle County High School, Danville *
  • Central Hardin High School, Cecilia
  • Clay County High School, Manchester *
  • Conner High School, Hebron
  • Elizabethtown High School, Elizabethtown
  • George Rogers Clark High School, Winchester
  • Grant County High School, Dry Ridge
  • Hart County High School, Munfordville
  • Leslie County High School, Hyden
  • Livingston Central High School, Smithland
  • Marshall County High School, Benton *
  • McCracken County High School, Paducah
  • Middlesboro High School, Middlesboro *
  • Moore Traditional School, Louisville *
  • Phelps Junior and Senior High School, Phelps
  • Red Bird Christian School, Beverly *
  • Trimble County High School, Bedford *
  • West Carter High School, Olive Hill

*Denotes a school new to the Poetry Out Loud program in 2017

The winner of the state finals receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up receives $100, with $200 going to his or her school library.

For more information about Kentucky’s Poetry Out Loud state finals, visit the arts council’s website or contact Jean St. John, arts education director, at or 502-892-3124.