AUGUSTA — The Poetry Out Loud Regional Finals took place Feb. 27-28 at Hampden Academy in the north, and Thornton Academy in the south, where 42 high school students competed.

The Maine Arts Commission, which administers the competition at the state level, recently announced the top 10 finalists who will compete in State Finals.

Northern Maine Regional Champions: Natalie Lisnet, a Bangor High School senior; Kate Hodgson, a Camden Hills Regional High School senior; Emma Beyor, an Erskine Academy senior; Gabrielle Cooper, Gardiner Area High School senior; and Antyna Gould, a Medomak Valley High School senior.

Southern Maine Regional Champions: Amran Mahamed, a Deering High School junior; Jordan Bryant, a Greely High School sophomore; Sabrina Small, a Maine Coast Waldorf School senior; Skyler Vaughn, a The Maine Girls’ Academy senior; and Arielle Leeman, a Morse High School senior.

Poetry Out Loud is organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to encourage performance art, memorization and public speaking skills in high schools nationwide. Since the contest started in 2005, nearly three million students and 10,000 schools have participated. Maine high schools consistently draw a high participation rate from around the state. The top-qualifying student from each participating school is selected to compete in either the Northern or Southern Regional finals.

During the competition, there are two rounds of recitation in which students must perform one poem written pre-20th century, and one poem that consists of 25 lines or fewer. The final round is reserved for the top 10 performers of the two previous rounds to recite one final poem. Performances are judged on the student’s physical presence, vocal articulation, dramatic appropriateness and evidence of understanding of the poem. A juried panel then chooses the top five finalists from each region to move on the state finals.

The Maine State Finals will take place at 3 p.m. Monday, March 13, at the Waterville Opera House. The doors will open at 2:30 p.m.

The state champion will receive $200, a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for the winner’s school.

The state champion will be flown to Washington, D.C., in April for the national finals and to compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, as well as a $20,000 scholarship.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 287-2713.

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