Vermillion student wins POL, on to nationals

Samuel Pearson, a senior at Vermillion High School, won the state Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition, Monday in Sioux Falls. Pearson will travel to Washington, D.C., to represent South Dakota at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals April 28-30.

Pearson also won a $200 cash award, and his school will receive $500 to be used for poetry books, in addition to his trip to the national finals.

Nine students from high schools across South Dakota competed for the title. Second place in the competition went to Tristan Chasing Hawk, a junior at Harrisburg High School. Chasing Hawk was awarded $100 cash, and his school will receive $300 for the purchase of poetry books. Akicita Cistila His Horse is Thunder, who is a senior at Little Wound High School in Kyle, earned the third-place spot.

Just three points separated the first-, second- and third-place scores. Joshua Hinkemeyer, Sisseton High School, was ranked fourth. The following students received medals for qualifying as state finalists, but the remaining scores were not ranked: Annie Deutscher, Lincoln High School, Sioux Falls; Keana Jackson, Rosholt High School; Savoy Schuler, Stevens High School, Rapid City; Kayla Dittenhauser, Washington High School, Sioux Falls; and Samantha Elbert, Watertown High School.

Three teachers were also awarded for their efforts in and out of the classroom as Poetry Out Loud coaches. Kim Davidson, Rosholt High School, took the top spot and earned a $500 cash prize. Sharon Prendergast, Sisseton High School, and Gretchen Brimm, Newell High School each received honorable mentions in the category and $100 cash.

Poetry Out Loud is a recitation program and competition that urges the teaching of poetry as an oral art form in high schools. Schools that participate in Poetry Out Loud enter students into a preliminary round, from which the state finalists are chosen.

Poetry Out Loud was created in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, with the collaboration of State Arts Agencies. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

In South Dakota, POL is a program administered by the South Dakota Arts Council, an office of the state Department of Tourism, in partnership with South Dakotans for the Arts and South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

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