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Classical High Student Wins State Arts Council's 'Poetry Out Loud' Rhode Island State Final

For the second year in a row, Classical High School student Amber Johnson took top honors at Saturday afternoon's Poetry Out Loud state finals at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, sponsored locally by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and VSA arts of Rhode Island. As Rhode Island state winner, Johnson will go on to compete at the national finals in Washington, DC in April.

[in the first link to a photo, below, 2010 Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud winner Amber Johnson of Classical High School, Providence, recites poetry at the competition.]

Poetry Out Loud is a program sponsored nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and The Poetry Foundation in Chicago. Organized along the lines of the national spelling bee, Poetry Out Loud promotes competitions at the high school level throughout the country, with local winners going on to state finals, and from there to the national championship competition.

Over 850 students from 15 schools participated in the program in Rhode Island this year.  The following schools participated in the state finals: Burrillville High School in Burrillville; Block Island School on Block Island; Central Falls High School in Central Falls; Classical High School and Hope Arts High School in Providence; Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick; Coventry High School in Coventry; North Smithfield High School in North Smithfield; Exeter-West Greenwich Regional High School;  Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth; Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Pawtucket; West Warwick High School in West Warwick; Johnston High School in Johnston.

In addition to Amber Johnson, the following students received awards at Saturday afternoon's competition: Sydney Hermanson from North Smithfield High School received the second place prize and Charlotte Abotsi from Hope Arts High School in Providence was the third place winner.

First place winner Amber Johnson from Providence will receive a $200 prize check and an all-expense-paid trip to compete at the National Finals on April 27th in Washington, DC. Classical High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second prize winner, Sydney Hermanson from North Smithfield High School, will receive a $100 prize check, and her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

[In the second link to a photo below: Representatives of RISCA, The Poetry Foundation and VSA arts of RI with the three winners of the 2010 Poetry Out Loud Competition in Rhode Island. From left to right, Randall Rosenbaum, RISCA Executive Director; Justine Chiappetta, The Poetry Foundation; Charlotte Abotsi of Hope High School (3rd place); Sydney Hermanson, North Smithfield High School (2nd place); Amber Johnson, Classical High School (1st place); Jeannine Chartier, VSA arts of Rhode Island – photo by Dan Kahn, RISCA)].

About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency, supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. For more information on RISCA and its programs, please visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.

About The Poetry Foundation The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, 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

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  • Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
  • Online:
  • Release date: 02-28-2010

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