Indiana Area High School junior Tove Johnson won the ArtsPath regional final for Poetry Out Loud at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, February 23, 2010. Johnson, one of five outstanding area students to compete in the poetry recitation regional final, will travel to the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania state final on March 15, 2010.
Each participant recited three poems from memory selected from a Poetry Out Loud anthology. The students’ choices this year also included “The Old Swimmin’ Hole” by James Whitcomb Riley, “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Ralegh, and “Agoraphobia” by Linda Pastan, to name a few. Johnson had the audience laughing with her final recitation, "Hate Poem," by Julie Sheehan—a sarcastically biting poem about hate.
Johnson is an avid participant in the arts programs at Indiana, a member of the International Thespian Society, and a member of A Cappella Choir and Stage Crew Club. As a dancer, Johnson has studied for fourteen years, currently attends Van Dyke and Company in Punxsutawney, and is in her third year as a member of the Mahoning Valley Ballet Company. Having attended the Long Lake Camp for the Arts and the Broadway Training Center in their Winter Intensive program, she hopes to pursue a career in musical theater. She is the daughter of Tom and Gretchen Johnson and a student of Gretchen Barbor.
Debbie Brenner, a junior at Marion Center High School, was first runner-up; and Pennsylvania’s 2009 state winner, Molly Stoltz, a senior at DuBois Area High School, was second runner-up. Tyler Baum, Homer Center Area High School senior, and Ryan Rebel, a senior at Kiski School in Saltzburg, also recited.
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 and organized through a network of arts-in-education partners across the state. The 2010 national finals which will be held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2010.
The local competition is organized by ArtsPath, a program of the College of Fine Arts 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.
An outstanding and diverse group of individuals judged this year’s contest, including Leah Chambers, adjunct IUP faculty member in English at IUP’s Punxsutawney campus; Matthew Ferrence, adjunct IUP faculty member in English in Indiana; Kate Geiger, director of the Indiana Free Library; Lynn Shelly, IUP assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Center at the Punxsutawney campus; and Rebecca Slak, executive director for the Indiana Arts Council. The prompter, which was not needed for the first time in the ArtsPath Regionals history, was Andrew Horner, a senior English and Philosophy major at IUP.
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.