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Milwaukee High School of the Arts Sweeps Tenth “Poetry Out Loud” State Finals


Pictured (L to R) Abigail Thompson, Ian Walls, Jacki Martindale


Once again, two students from Milwaukee High School of the Arts excelled at the State “Poetry Out Loud” Finals – placing as Wisconsin Champion and First Runner Up!  On March 17 at the UW-Madison campus, second-time state competitor Ian Walls (a senior) recited three poems that won him 88 out of 100 points.  Junior Abigail Thompson scored 85%. Both students represented the Urban Lakes Region of Wisconsin.  Ian was awarded $200 and an all expenses-paid trip with a chaperone to the 2015 national finals contest on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, DC, April 27-29.  As First Runner Up, Abigail won $100.  In addition, these two students also won $500 and $200 respectively for their school library to purchase poetry publications. 

Eight other outstanding participants competed at the state finals, representing three other regions of the state:  junior Turquoise Baker (University School of Milwaukee), also from the Urban Lakes Region; junior Rebecca Brunstad and freshman Sophie Voss (Menomonie High School), and sophomore Janessa Gould (Altoona High School) represented the Northwest Region; junior Summer Henschel (Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School) and freshman Rachel Uhlarik (Rhinelander High School) represented the Northeast Region; and the Capitol Region was represented by senior Jack Greenwood (Stoughton High School) and freshman Kylie Rogers (DeForest High School). 

Born of a partnership between the NEA, the Poetry Foundation, and – in our state -  the Wisconsin Arts Board, Poetry Out Loud is celebrating its tenth year as the national arts education program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.  The national program awards $50,000 in prizes annually.

Judges for the state contest were Madison poets laureate, Dr. Andrea Musher and Fabu; American Players Theater actor, Colleen Madden; and Wisconsin Arts Board Executive Director, George Tzougros. Jim Fleming, Wisconsin Public Radio notable, was the emcee.  Jacki Martindale is the state coordinator and can be contacted at jmpmartindale@gmail.com.