Ten high school students from around the state will participate in the Poetry Out Loud state finals at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center on Tuesday, March 19, at 5 p.m. Juneau’s representative is Natalia Spengler from Juneau-Douglas High School.
In addition to Juneau’s Spengler, the Alaskan Finalists are: Samantha Saige Thomas from Chugiak High School, Chugiak; Tong Thao from Colony High School, Palmer; Sarina Montgomery from Lathrop High School, Fairbanks; Brittni Tully from Revilla Alternative High School, Ketchikan; Hazel Underwood from Kenny Lake School, Copper Center; Mark Sawyer Gillilan from IDEA - Region K; Thaddeus Steve from Stebbins/ Tukurngailnguq School, Stebbins; Annamarie Pike from Sitka High School, Sitka; and Andrea Irrigoo representing Kodiak High School, Kodiak.
The masters of ceremonies will be Shona Strauser and Bostin Christopher of Juneau’s Perseverance Theatre. Guest judges include writer, photographer, musician and conservationist Kim Heacox of Gustavus; singer-songwriter Marian Call of Juneau; author Lynn Schooler of Juneau; Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Emily Wall of Juneau; and retired high school English teacher, radio broadcaster and journalist JoAnn Ross Cunningham of Haines. The event is free and open to the public.
The competition is organized by the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council and presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. Some 365,000 students from more than 2,000 high schools took part in the 2011–2012 Poetry Out Loud program.
The winner of the Alaska finals will receive $200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The Alaska state champion will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC, on April 29-30. The National Finals will bestow a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 award for the National Champion.