Siera Willis, a sophomore at Main Street Academy in Grandview, placed as the runner-up at the Missouri Poetry Out Loud state competition on March 3 in Jefferson City.
Siera won the regional Poetry Out Loud event on Feb 16 at Park University's Parkville Campus, qualifying her for the state competition. Nicole Andrews of Central High School in Springfield won the state title and will compete in the national Poetry Out Loud competition April 26-27 in Washington, D.C.
Missouri First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon attended the state competition at the James & Etta Miller Performing Arts Center and presented awards to Nicole and Siera.
In Poetry Out Loud, high school students recite three poems each for the competition. Siera's selections were "I'm a Fool to Love You" by Cornelius Eady; "How I Discovered Poetry" by Marilyn Nelson; and "To the Ladies" by Lady Mary Chudleigh. Should Nicole be unable to compete at the national level, Siera would take her place.
Participants won spots at the Park's regional Poetry Out Loud event after winning competitions at their high schools first. In addition to Siera, the participants in Park's regional were: Cameron Crane, Kansas City Academy; Brittany Koenegstein, Platte County High School; Christian Macias, Park Hill South High School; "Alex" Bradley Stompoly, Oak Park High School; and Kierstin Thacker, Winnetonka High School.
An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. This year an estimated 325,000 students and 1,800 high schools participated in Poetry Out Loud.
State champions receive a plaque, traveling trophy and all-expense-paid trip (with two parents or chaperones) to Washington, D.C. for the national finals. A total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded at the national finals, and the national champion will receive a $20,000 college scholarship.
For more information about the national competition, visit www.poetryoutloud.org/. For more information on Park's regional Poetry Out Loud competition, contact Virginia Brackett, Ph.D., regional coordinator, and associate professor of English and chair of Park's Department of English and Modern Languages, at (816) 584-6818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.