Three students representing schools in Clark and Pierce counties have advanced from the SW WA Regional Final to the State Final for Poetry Out Loud (POL). The top scorers were announced during a virtual live recognition ceremony on Zoom, hosted by ESD 112 on Wednesday night.

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 – classic and contemporary – through memorization, performance and competition.

In total, nine students from ESDs 112, 113 and 121 made it to the Regional Final after earning top scores in Poetry Out Loud competitions at their own schools.

As a result of COVID-19, this year’s Regional Final was conducted remotely. Each student recorded and uploaded two poetry recitations to a secure online video platform. From there, a team of POL judges reviewed and scored the recitations.

“This year presented a very unique challenge for our student participants,” said Nick Shanmac, ESD 112 communications manager and Poetry Out Loud regional coordinator. “Without having a live audience to perform for, as has been the case in previous years, students had to figure out how to capture the passion and energy of stirring poetry recitation while at home in front of a camera. Every student involved did an excellent job and should feel quite proud of their work.”

The top three scoring students advancing to the State Final are:

  • Cooper Siems – Concordia Christian Academy (Tacoma)
  • Micah Stewart – Cedar Tree Classical Christian School (Ridgefield)
  • Bethany Tuchardt – Battle Ground High School (Battle Ground)

“In a year full of challenges, Poetry Out Loud provided a bright spot,” said Superintendent of ESD 112 Tim Merlino. “The pandemic has robbed us of many opportunities for personal engagement and performance. This poetry competition provided both connection – albeit virtually – and an opportunity for students to demonstrate their talent.”

You can watch Wednesday night’s recognition ceremony, which includes performances from each of the top three scoring students:

To learn more about Poetry Out Loud, visit