WATERVILLE — Gabrielle Cooper of Gardiner Area High School took top honors Monday at the Poetry Out Loud Maine State Finals held at the Waterville Opera House.

Cooper, of Pittston, who’s in 12th grade, was among 10 students from across Maine who were selected from more than 9,500 participating Maine high school students. Cooper won Monday’s three-round state finals after reciting “The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins; “Please Don’t” by Tony Hoagland; and “To be of use” by Marge Piercy.

The runner-up in the finals was Natalie Lisnet, of Bangor High School.

“All 10 were outstanding and they wowed the audience,” Argy Nestor, director of arts education for the Maine Arts Commission and organizer of the Poetry Out Loud program, said Monday after announcing Cooper’s top selection by judges. “And Gardiner Area High School is to be commended for their commitment to poetry and to Poetry Out Loud. Every single year, every student in grades 9-12 (at Gardiner) is reciting poetry as part of this program. It was clear Gabrielle was ready and poised and excited, and it was just wonderful.”

A partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation puts on the Poetry Out Loud contest every year, which encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

In winning the state finals, Cooper receives $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national championship at the end of April.

Cooper will attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, in the fall and is leaning toward majoring in economics or anthropology. She has said the school has an abundance of foreign study and internship programs she’s looking forward to experiencing.

Cooper is also the seventh state finalist from Gardiner Area High School in the last eight years, according to Rie Kittredge, the school’s English department chairwoman.

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