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VIDEO: Casper high school student named 2021 Wyoming Poetry Out Loud Champion

Raylene Jones (Wyoming Arts Council)

CHEYENNE, Wyo— Raylene Jones, a junior at Natrona County High School, has been named the 2021 Wyoming Poetry Out Loud state champion, the Wyoming Arts Council announced on Monday, March 8.

Jones will move on to compete in the Poetry Out Loud national finals which will be held in May.

In the Wyoming competition, 500 students participated. Jones won after winning at the classroom and school-wide level. She will receive $200 and NCHS will get $500 to purchase poetry materials.

Wyoming Superintendent Jillian Balow recognized Jones in a video that also features video clips of Jones and other students’ poetry recitations:

The first runner-up was Jade Hefenieder from Worland High School who will receive $100 and Worland High School will receive $200. Telsie Comer from Sundance Secondary was third place winner.

“Guest judges who presided over the virtual state competition were Chad Hanson, award-winning poet and college educator from Casper; author and University of Wyoming educator Alyson Hagy, Jackson Hole poet Matt Daly and poet Anne Marie Wells from Hoback Junction,” the Wyoming Arts Council said. “Judges viewed student video submissions and evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy, and evidence of understanding.”

The national competition semi-finals, including Jones’ video submission, will be broadcat on Sunday, May 2 at arts.gov.

“The top nine students from the semi-final level will move on to the finals competition, to be broadcast on Thursday, May 27, 2021, again at arts.gov,” the Wyoming Arts Council said. “The Poetry Out Loud national finals will present a total of $50,000 in awards and school/organization stipends, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded.”

“A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts (arts.gov), the Poetry Foundation (poetryfoundation.org), and state arts agencies, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. 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, D.C. Since the program began in 2005, more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.”