Central Falls High School Student Wins State Arts Council’s ‘Poetry Out Loud’ Rhode Island State Final

POL 2020 State Champion Nayeli Vazquez
Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud State Champion Nayeli Vazquez (center) with RI Youth Poetry Ambassador Halima Ibrahim (left) and RISCA Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum

Central Falls High School student Nayeli Vazquez is this year’s Rhode Island winner of the Poetry Out Loud state championship, held Sunday, March 8 at the RISD Museum, sponsored locally by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. As Rhode Island state winner, Vazquez will go on to compete at the national finals in Washington, DC in April. 

Watch the video featuring an interview and recitation from 2020 Poetry Out Loud state finalist, Central Falls senior Nayeli Vazquez.

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. 

This year 2,740 students participated in the program representing 13 schools throughout the State of Rhode Island.  Eleven schools sent contestants to the Rhode Island finals this year. The following schools participated in the state finals: Chariho Regional High School in Wood River Junction; East Providence High School; Portsmouth Abbey School; Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick; Classical High School, Central High School and St. Patrick Academy in Providence; Scituate High School; North Kingstown High School; Barrington Christian Academy; and Central Falls High School. 

POL 2020 5 finalists

Finalists from RI State Poetry Out Loud State Championship: (from left) 3rd Place winner Mariama Bandabaila from Classical High School; Honorable Mention Emily Klassen from Barrington Christian Academy; State Champion Nayeli Vazquez from Central Falls High School; Honorable Mention Sienna Adams from East Providence High School; and 2nd Place winner Jacob Rademacher from Bishop Hendricken High School.

In addition to Nayeli Vazquez, the following students received awards at Sunday’s competition: the second place finalist is Jacob Rademacher from Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick. Placing third was Mariama Bandabaila from Classical High School in Providence, and Honorable Mentions went to Emily Klassen from Barrington Christian Academy and Sienna Adams from East Providence High School. 

First place winner Nayeli Vazquez will receive a $200 prize check and an all-expense-paid trip to compete at the National Finals on April 24th to April 26th in Washington, DC. Central Falls High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second prize winner, Jacob Rademacher from Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, will receive a $100 prize check, and her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books. 

Halima Ibrahim, Rhode Island’s Youth Poet Ambassador, was this year’s Guest Poet. Judges this year were Doug Norris, Margaret Chevian, and Maggie Anderson, and the Poetry Out Loud Teaching Artist was Kate Lohman. 

Rhode Island’s Poetry Out Loud State Championship was organized by Martha Lenihan-Lavieri, and Community Partners included the RISD Museum, the Providence Athenaeum, and the Rhode Island Center for the Book. 

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 www.arts.ri.gov. 

About the National Endowment for the Arts 

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about the National Endowment for the Arts.  

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 http://www.poetryfoundation.org. 

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