Two students representing schools in Thurston and Pierce counties have advanced from the SW Washington Regional Final to the State Final for the Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition. The top two scorers were announced during a virtual Regional Final ceremony hosted by ESD 112 and shared on Facebook and YouTube on Wednesday evening.

Presented in partnership with ArtsWA, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, POL is a national program that encourages high school students to learn about poetry – both classic and contemporary – through memorization, performance, and competition.

In total, nine students were named School Champions and competed in the Regional Final.

To offer the most equitable opportunity for all to participate, this year’s Regional Final was conducted virtually. Each student recorded and submitted two poetry recitations. A team of POL judges reviewed and scored each recitation, evaluating criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, accuracy, and overall performance.

“The skills and confidence students gain from this experience are immeasurable,” said ESD 112 Superintendent Tim Merlino. “Poetry Out Loud offers young people the unique opportunity to appreciate literature while expressing themselves creatively and honing their public speaking talents. It is an incredibly valuable experience for students.”

The top two scoring students advancing to the 2023 State Final are:

  • Matthew Valentine – Olympia High School (Olympia, WA)
  • Oliver Jones – Stadium High School (Tacoma, WA)

The Washington State champion will receive $200 and will advance to the 2023 national finals The State-level competition will be held at the Tacoma Little Theater on Saturday, March 11, and the National Finals are planning to be held May 8-10 in Washington, D.C.

At the national finals, $50,000 in awards and school/organizational stipends will be distributed. The representing school or organization of the state champion will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 for their school or organization. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded.

Watch the Regional Finals, which includes performances by the two top scoring students as well as appearances by all the student finalists on YouTube.