Cedar Catholic Student To Compete For Poetry Out Loud State Championship Friday

OMAHA – A northeast Nebraska high school will be represented during a state poetry championship this week.

According to a release from the Nebraska Arts Council, sophomore Cambelle Niemen from Hartington Cedar Catholic High School has advanced to the state semifinals competing for the Poetry Out Loud state championship.

The championship will be streamed on Friday, March 12, 2021 at 6:00pm CST as Nebraska’s State Poet, Matt Mason, will serve as emcee for the competition.

The event is free for all to view. Sign up to watch the broadcast on the NAC website. Those who sign up in advance will receive a viewing link and a reminder an hour prior to the event. A direct link to the broadcast will be listed on the Nebraska Arts Council website the day of the event.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. The program is conducted in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Nebraskans for the Arts is also a partner with the state program and will provide trophies for the top three contestants.

Students will recite works selected from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. This year’s competition includes works by Thomas Hood, Elizabeth Hands and Maya Angelou. Joining Niemen includes junior Jacob Wellnitz of Gordon-Rushville High School, freshman Madeleine Smith of Omaha Marian High School, junior Alexandra Zaleski of Omaha Skutt Catholic High School and freshman Elle Sudbeck of Thayer Central Community Schools in Hebron.

Judges for this year’s event are, Poet and UNL Doctoral candidate, Saddiq Dzukogi, Nebraska State Board of Education member, Patsy Koch-Johns, Artistic Director of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Andy Park, English Language Arts Specialist at the Nebraska Department of Education, Marissa Payzant, Ed.D. and Jennifer Dreibelbis, Grants and Data Administrator at the Nebraska Arts Council.

Juan De La Cruz of Gordon-Rushville High School was crowned the 2020 Poetry Out Loud Nebraska State Champion. De La Cruz would have competed at the national championship in Washington, D.C., however the championship was cancelled due to the health emergency.

The winner will receive $200 and will compete in the national championship, to be broadcast in May. The state champion’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up will receive $100, and $200 for his or her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends at the national competition, including a $20,000 scholarship for the national winner.