The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) announced that Peachy Lee, a senior at Lancaster Country Day School in Lancaster County, is Pennsylvania’s 2023 Poetry Out Loud (POL) state champion. Lee will represent Pennsylvania in the National Finals, which will be held in Washington, D.C., beginning May 8, 2023.
“Poetry Out Loud supports our Commonwealth’s students’ mastery of critical skills for success in school and the workplace,” said Karl Blischke, PCA Executive Director. “On behalf of the Council and staff of the PCA, we congratulate our 13 state competitors for their hard work and accomplishments and extend best wishes to Peachy Lee as she goes on to compete at the national championship.”
The POL state champion receives $200 from the Poetry Foundation and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national championship. The POL state champion’s school receives $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. At the national finals, a total of $50,000 in awards and school/organizational stipends is awarded annually.
First runner-up in the state finals went to Kendal Pauline, a senior at Hazleton Area Arts and Humanities Academy in Luzerne County. As runner-up, Pauline will receive $100, and Hazleton Area Arts and Humanities Academy will receive $200.
The 13 state POL competitors were among more than 2,995 high school students who participated in this year’s competition, with the help and support of 205 teachers/coaches in 77 schools across Pennsylvania.
Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The contest is facilitated through PCA, working with regional partner organizations.
Each student memorized and prepared three poems selected from print and online poetry anthologies. All 13 students performed in the first two rounds of competition, with the top five going on to compete in the third and final round. Students were judged on voice and articulation, physical presence, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.
The complete list of all 13 regional competitors who competed in the 2023 POL state championship includes:
- Caitlin Blessel, Elk County, St. Marys Area High School
- Ollie Currier, Philadelphia County (resides), Merion Mercy Academy (attends)
- Alex Hanley, Lebanon County, Cedar Crest High School
- Peach Lee, Lancaster County, Lancaster Country Day School
- Ashlynn McKinney, Huntington County (resides), Tyrone Area High School (attends)
- Mathes Miller-Priddy, Centre County, Delta Program – State College School District
- Kendal Pauline, Luzerne County, Hazleton Area Arts and Humanities Academy
- Grace Reid-Vensel, Washington County (resides), Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School (attends)
- Elizabeth Sens, Bradford County, Troy Area Junior/Senior High School
- Neiv Sinha, Lehigh County, Whitehall High School
- Montika Smith, York County, Logos Academy
- Lily Varner, Juniata County, East Juniata High School
- Julia Wirths, Clearfield County, DuBois Area High School