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

Classical High School student Jenifer Henriquez is this year's Rhode Island winner of the Poetry Out Loud state championship, held Sunday, March 17 at Bishop Hendricken High School, sponsored locally by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and VSA arts of Rhode Island. As Rhode Island state winner, Henriquez will go on to compete at the national finals in Washington, DC in April.

[in the first link to a photo, below, 2013 Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud winner Jenifer Henriquez of Classical High School, Providence [right], with 2010 Poetry Out Loud National Winner Amber Rose Johnson of Providence – photo by Brister Photo]

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 1,500 students participated in the program and 11 schools sent contestants to the Rhode Island finals this year. The following schools participated in the state finals: Burrillville High School in Burrillville; Block Island School on Block Island; Mt. Hope High School in Bristol; Central Falls High School in Central Falls; Classical High School and Paul Cuffee School in Providence; Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick; North Smithfield High School in North Smithfield; The Greene School in West Greenwich; Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth; West Warwick High School in West Warwick.

In addition to Jenifer Henriquez, the following students received awards at Sunday afternoon's competition: the second place finalist is Sebastian Yedana from Paul Cuffee School, Providence. Placing third was Brian Duranleau from Bishop Hendricken High School, Warwick, and Honorable Mention went to Ann Gallagher from Portsmouth High School.

First place winner Jenifer Henriquez from Providence will receive a $200 prize check and an all-expense-paid trip to compete at the National Finals on April 28th to April 30th in Washington, DC. Classical High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second prize winner, Sebastian Yedana from Paul Cuffee School, Providence, will receive a $100 prize check, and her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

Tina Cane, founder of Writers-in-the-schools Rhode Island, was this year's Guest Poet. Judges this year included Amber Rose Johnson, the 2009/2010 Poetry Out Loud Champion, and winner of the 2010 National Championship. Other judges serving this year included Christina Bevilacqua, Director of Programs and Public Engagement for the Priovidence Athenaeum; Amy Lynn Budd, theatre director, performer, and producer; and Kate Lester, is a theatre director, actor, playwright and teacher, currently working with the Gamm Theatre and the Artist's Exchange.

[In the second link to a photo below: From left to right, Ann Gallagher, Honorable Mention, from Portsmouth Abbey School; Brian Duranleau from Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick (3rd place); Sebastian Yedana from Paul Cuffee School in Providence (2nd place); Jenifer Henriquez, Classical High School (1st place) – photo by Brister Photo].

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
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  • Release date: 03-25-2013

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