Molly Stoltz, a junior at DuBois Area High School in Clearfield County representing IUP’s ArtsPath, has been named the winner of the Pennsylvania state finals of the 2009 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.
The contest is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to encourage high school students to learn about significant works of poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.
The state competition is presented each year by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Over 7,000 students in ninety Pennsylvania high schools across the state participated at the classroom level in this year’s competition.
Stoltz was selected from among thirteen regional finalists by a panel of judges in a day-long competition at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg held Thursday, March 12. Second place went to Luka Glinsky from Erie County and third place went to Christian Aponte of Luzerne County.
“The Commonwealth can be very proud of the outstanding performances delivered by today’s contestants, and especially our new state champion Molly Stoltz,” said Pennsylvania Council on the Arts chairperson Diane Dalto. “Seeing the talent, self-confidence, emotional intelligence, and dedication to excellence exemplified by Stoltz and the other regional winners offers a boost in turbulent times and instills optimism for a better future.”
Each competitor memorized and prepared three poems for recitation selected from print and on-line poetry anthologies. Evaluation criteria included voice and articulation, physical presence, appropriateness of dramatization, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, overall performance, and accuracy.
The panel of judges for the Harrisburg event included Pennsylvania cultural leaders, writers, and poets: Clyde McGeary, artist and author; Francesca Fiore, last year’s Pennsylvania Poetry Out Loud state champion; Kendria Perry, Miss Pennsylvania 2008; Marjorie Maddox Hafer, poet and professor of English at Lock Haven University; and Jeffrey Gabel, founder and executive director of the Majestic Theater at Gettysburg. JoBeth McKee and Jamie Kasper of the Department of Education served as accuracy judges.
As state champion, Stoltz will receive $200 from the Poetry Foundation and an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship April 28. The Foundation will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends at the national finals, with at least one $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud national champion.
Stoltz was selected to represent the ArtsPath region in a semifinal competition held in the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Performing Arts Center on February 23. ArtsPath, a program managed by the IUP College of Fine Arts and The Lively Arts and funded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, provides arts-in-education services for a region that includes Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Jefferson, and Indiana counties and the DuBois area of Clearfield County. ArtsPath is one of eleven such partners—along with the state Parent Teachers Association—across the state that were responsible for organizing and presenting thirteen regional competitions.
Stoltz is the daughter of Harry and Mary Beth Stoltz of DuBois. She is an active member of the school’s theater program and is currently cast as Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof. She serves as vice president of the Dynamics, the school’s show choir. She is also a member of the drama club, a returning delegate to the International Thespian Society State Conference, and one of eight students in Pennsylvania to serve on its board of directors. Stoltz is also a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters with future plans that include participation in Invisible Children missionary work in Africa.
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.
Photos: The first photo shows Gov. Edward G. Rendell congratulating Ms. Stoltz on her partication in the Poetry Out Loud contest held at the Governor’s Residence March 12. The next photo shows Stoltz receiving the regional ArtsPath first place award on February 23 from ArtsPath assistant director Jeff Wacker. The other photo shows her reciting one of her poems during the ArtsPath competition held in the IUP Performing Arts Center.
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