David “DJ” Gress, a senior at the Kiski School located in Saltsburg, Pa., won the state finals of the 2013 Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The competition was held at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg on Monday, March 11, 2013.
DJ, one of 14 finalists, reached the state competition through the Indiana regional semifinals managed by ArtsPath, a program of the Lively Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The regional event was held in the IUP Performing Arts Center on February 28. Participating were students from Indiana Area High School, DuBois Area High School, Blairsville High School, and Marion Center High School. The state finals are facilitated through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
“Governor Corbett and I are pleased to host the finals for Pennsylvania’s Poetry Out Loud competition. During the past eight years, 55,000 high school students have participated in the competition,” said First Lady Susan Corbett. “We congratulate this year’s finalists and the parents, teachers, and principals who supported them in this endeavor.”
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, is 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. He lives in Latrobe, Pa.
Gress will represent Pennsylvania at the national championship to be held in Washington, D.C. April 28–30. The state champion will receive $200 from the Poetry Foundation and an expense-paid trip to compete in the national championship, which will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with at least one $20,000 college scholarship.
Each of the finalists memorized and performed three poems selected from print and online poetry anthologies. Students were judged on voice and articulation, physical presence, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, overall performance, and accuracy.
Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, the Poetry Out Loud contest encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.
The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is a state agency under the Governor’s Office that works 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. The council formed the Pennsylvania Arts in Education Partnership in 1995 to enhance efforts to foster educational excellence through participation in the creative process in schools and community settings.
Pictured here with DJ Gress, center, are Philip Horn, left, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and First Lady Susan Corbett, who also serves as the chair of the PCA.