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Steller Secondary student wins Alaska poetry competition



Juneau, Alaska - From a  competitive field of more than 5,400 students across the state, Aryeh  (pronounced Ar-ee-ay) Lax from Steller Secondary School in  Anchorage, Alaska, received the title of 2012 Poetry Out Loud Alaska State  Champion at the state finals held in the Juneau Arts and Culture Center in  Juneau on March 27, 2012.  The first runner-up was Chaya (pronounced Kaia)  Pike from Sitka High School in Sitka, Alaska.

Aryeh Lax's final recitation  was The End of Science Fiction, a free form poem by Lisel  Mueller commenting on contemporary life. "Poetry Out Loud is an all-out  incredible event. The chance to absolutely immerse myself in these poems--to  get inside them, and then try to communicate that connection to an audience--is  challenging, enlightening, and transformative. I love that there's this kind of  opportunity out there for teens," says Aryeh.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts  education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering  educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools  across the country.  Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning  at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to  the state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC.  More than 365,000 students from  2,255 high schools took part in the 2010-2011 Poetry Out Loud program.

At the state finals at Juneau Arts  and Culture Center, 10 Poetry Out Loud contestants from all over Alaska  recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 680 classic and  contemporary poems.  The anthology, a website (www.poetryoutloud.org), a teacher's  guide, and media samples of poetry recitation were created by the National  Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation as free educational resources  for high school students and teachers.

The Alaska State Champion Aryeh Lax  will receive an award of $200 and an all- expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC,  to compete for the national championship. His school will receive a $500  stipend for the purchase of poetry books.  First runner-up Chaya Pike will  receive $100, with $200 for her school library. Third place went to Whitney  Winders from Wasilla's Colony High School. The other finalists were Jessica  Andersen from Unalaska City School, Unalaska; Reilly Clarke from Lathrop High  School, Fairbanks; Jesse Klejka from Bethel Regional High School, Bethel;  Darien Southall from Frank A. Degnan High School, Unalakleet; Brittni  Tully-Dapcevich from Revilla Alternative High School, Ketchikan; and Ruby  Walden from Tok School, Tok.

Guest judges presided over the  competition, including Ernestine Hayes, Juneau poet and Assistant Professor of  English Arts and Sciences at University of Alaska SE; Don Reardon, Anchorage  poet and writer, a professor at University of Alaska Anchorage and board  president of the 49 Writers; Alaska State writer laureate Peggy Shumaker, of  Fairbanks; Anchorage poet, writer and wilderness guide Jeremy Patakey; and  poet, journalist and Kodiak fisherman Toby Sullivan. Judges evaluated student  performances on criteria including physical presence, evidence of  understanding, level of difficulty, and accuracy.

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the  next generation of literary readers by building on the resurgence of poetry as  an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the popularity of rap  music among youth. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking  skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.  Now in its sixth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has  inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students  to discover classic and contemporary poetry.  To find out how to get  involved in the 2013 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, visit www.poetryoutloud.org.

About Alaska State Council on  the Arts
The Alaska State Council on the  Arts is a state agency that fosters the development of the arts for all  Alaskans through education, partnerships, grants and services.

About Juneau Arts and Humanities  Council
The Juneau Arts and Humanities  Council (JAHC), incorporated in 1973, is the formal arts agency for the Capital  City of Juneau, Alaska. It operates the Juneau Arts and Culture Center (JACC) a  vibrant community center. The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council cultivates  vibrant arts and cultural opportunities and is a leader in building a strong,  prosperous community where creativity and innovation thrive.

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of  Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a  vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and  celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience.  The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for  poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and  encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and  programs. For more information, please visit www.poetryfoundation.org

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts  was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal  government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support  artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals  and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts  agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.  To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov.

Juneau Empire Article on the Alaska State Finals:

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