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Local students finish strong in Poetry Out Loud competition

Mar. 31, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

CHARLESTON -- Students from Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Putnam and Mason counties recently competed in the West Virginia finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition.

The winner, who will represent the state in Washington, D.C., at the national competition, is Tim DiFazio from Morgantown High School. The first runner-up is Grace Pritt from Hurricane High School.

Pritt's poems included "Love Song" by Dorothy Parker, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes and "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)" by Emily Dickinson. Her teacher is Ronda Moncada. As the runner-up, Pritt received $100, and her school library received $200.

"I am blown away by the talent of these young people this year," said actor Chris Sarandon, who served as master of ceremonies. "The wonderful subtlety of their presentation and emotion is extraordinary."

Thirty students from high schools in 23 counties competed in the semifinals on March 8, with the top 10 contestants competing the following day for the state final.

Though they didn't advance to the finals, four other area students were also state semifinalists. They are Aeesha Ranavaya from Cabell Midland High School, Cabell County; Jared Workman from Spring Valley High School, Wayne County; Peyton Humphreys from Wahama High School, Mason County; and Caitlin Fowlkes from Winfield High School, Putnam County.

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine, the oldest English-language monthly publication dedicated to verse. The program is designed to encourage high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.