Kiski School senior David “DJ” Gress was named winner of the ArtsPath regional final for the 2013 Poetry Out Loud competition held at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Monday, February 18, 2013. Gress competed against four other regional finalists and now advances to represent the ArtsPath region at the Governor’s Mansion in Harrisburg on March 11, 2013.
DJ will be one of 14 Pennsylvania regional champions who will compete for a chance to advance to the national finals held in April in Washington, D.C. At the ArtsPath regional, DJ competed against four other school winners, including runner-up Ella Glabicki, a senior at Dubois Area High School; Joseph Kukula, a junior at Blairsville High School; Jennifer Gandolfi, a senior at Marion Center Area High School; and Kate Bradshaw, a sophomore at Indiana Area Senior High School. DJ won reciting “Invictus” by Ernest Henley “After working sixty hours again for what reason” by Bob Hicok, and “The Heaven of Animals” by James L. Dickey.
While at Kiski, DJ has lettered in wrestling, cross country, swimming, and lacrosse. In addition to athletics, he is also a member of the glee club, a prefect for his school, and enjoys playing guitar in his spare time. DJ has also participated in a number of school plays and has won a national talent competition for his performance. Maintaining high honors since he was a freshman, DJ has earned academic awards for his achievements in science and plans on studying biomedical engineering in college.
Judges for the ArtsPath regional included Jason Long, an award-winning poet teaching at IUP and completing Ph.D. in English composition; Edward Carvalho, an assistant professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and author of two poetry collections; Thomas Harris, a retired secondary social studies teacher from the Indiana Area School District; Kate Geiger, an avid reader of poetry and director of the Indiana Free Library; and Michael Schwartz, an assistant professor of history and dramaturgy in the Department of Theater and Dance at IUP.
Presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about significant works of poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Pennsylvania’s contest structure is presented each year by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and organized through a network of arts-in-education partners across the state, including ArtsPath. The 2013 national finals will be held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on April 28–30.
The local competition is organized by ArtsPath, a program of the College of Fine Arts and the Lively Arts at IUP, providing arts-in-education services to students in Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson counties. It has provided these services to over 3,000 people each year since 2001. ArtsPath is led by Jeff Wacker, associate director of arts-in-education services for the Lively Arts.
The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is a state agency under the Governor’s Office. Its mission is to foster the excellence, diversity, and vitality of the arts in Pennsylvania and to broaden the availability and appreciation of those arts throughout the state.