Kamiakin senior wins statewide poetry recitation competition

WASHINGTON STATE ARTS COMMISSION NEWS RELEASE -- Starting from a field of 23,000 students across 76 of Washington's high schools, Elizabeth Mo, a senior at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Benton County, this weekend took first place in the Washington State Finals for Poetry Out Loud with her recitations of In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr. by June Jordan, Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Mo is now the 2014 Washington State Poetry Out Loud Champion and will travel to Washington, D.C. on an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the national finals on April 29 and 30. Additionally, she will receive a $200 stipend and her school library will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials.

Francisca Ritoch of Shorewood High School (King) took second place and receives $100, with a poetry material stipend of $200 for her school. Mckenna Johnson of Kentwood High School (King), Margot Lewis of Bellingham High School (Whatcom) and Meghan Mulcahy of Olympia High School (Thurston) all received honorable mentions for their recitations.

"The Washington State Poetry Out Loud finals were my first official event as executive director of ArtsWA, and I could not be more inspired to be an advocate for the arts and arts education after seeing these students in action on stage," said Karen Hanan, who was appointed by Governor Inslee to head the arts commission, effective March 1. "The way all 13 of the student finalists interpreted these writings and made them their own are clear examples of the kind of bold creative thinking and strong communication skills that Governor Inslee knows will help Washington's students successfully compete in a world that demands innovation and creativity as 21st century skills."

Prior to the state competition, classroom-level and then school-wide competitions were held across the state. The top students from each school continued on to one of seven regional finals, held in Northwest Washington, Southwest Washington, Central Washington, Eastern Washington, Southeast Washington and the Puget Sound region. Thirteen advanced to Saturday's state final in Tacoma.

About Poetry Out Loud

Now in its ninth year, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the mastery of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic competition to high schools across the country. The competition begins at the classroom level, progressing through school-wide, regional and state competitions and culminating in the National Finals in Washington, D.C. For more information on Poetry Out Loud, visit