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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2010

Illinois High School Student on Her Way to Washington D.C. for Poetry Out Loud National Finals at the End of April, National Poetry Month
Orion High School Senior Annette Putnam of Henry County Representing Illinois

Illinois -- On April 26 and 27, 53 student champions from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will gather in Washington, DC, to vie for the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and $50,000 in awards. Representing Illinois as our State Champion will be Orion High School senior Annette Putnam of Henry County.

Putnam emerged from a field of nearly 5,000 students from 47 Illinois high schools – and 325,000 competitors nationwide – who participated in this year’s Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The program, which provides free, standards-based curriculum materials, was created by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation to encourage youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

“Arts education is essential to raising America’s next generation of creative thinkers,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman.

“There is no education without the arts,” said Shirley R. Madigan, Illinois Arts Council Chairman. “The arts inspire passion and empower people. They provide refuge from a range of hurts, joy in discovery and creation, growth through reflection and contemplation, and, ultimately, the knowledge and skills to be more positively engaged and productive members of society. For our children, our future, the arts nurture creativity and imagination – the keys to succeeding and excelling in the 21st Century.”

Poetry Out Loud on Social Media: The NEA and the Poetry Foundation are posting Tweets about Poetry Out Loud leading up to the Finals and will be live-Tweeting at the event.  Follow the action on http://twitter.com/NEAarts and on http://twitter.com/poetryoutloud

The Illinois Arts Council implements Poetry Out Loud statewide in collaboration with seven regional partners. For a full list of regional winners, please see “Current News & Events” on the Illinois Arts Council website at www.state.il.us/agency/iac .

To express interest or register for next year’s Poetry Out Loud competition, please contact Susan Dickson, Illinois Arts Council Director of Ethnic & Folks Arts, Literature, and Presenters at 312/814-6740 or susan.dickson@illinois.gov .



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