Photo courtesy of Kelly Grayum
Lillian Cooley shows off her second-place certificate at the Poetry Out Loud regional competition in Spokane.

Liberty Bell High School freshman Lillian Cooley took second place at the regional finals of Poetry Out Loud and will compete in the state finals on March 5 in Tacoma.

Cooley, who won the local Poetry Out Loud competition, will face 12 other competitors at the state finals. The state winner will advance to the national finals in Washington, D.C. The national champion will win a $25,000 scholarship.

Cooley, the only freshman competing in Spokane, recited “Bleeding Heart” by Carmen Gimenez Smith and followed that in round two with “Without Regret” by Eleanor Wilner.

Faythe Klopfenstine from the Independent Learning Center also competed in Spokane. She performed “The Promise” by Jane Hirschfield and “Awakening in New York” by Maya Angelou.

Cooley’s second-place finish at the regionals in Spokane marked the fourth consecutive year that Liberty Bell has sent a competitor to the state finals.

A Liberty Bell student had won the regional competition for three consecutive years. Last year, Rowan Post won in Spokane. He was the runner-up to Claire Waichler in the Methow Valley competition. Waichler had to miss the Spokane contest because she was involved in a Junior Olympics Nordic skiing event in California.

In 2013, Liberty Bell’s Liam Daily won the regional competition in Spokane. In 2012, the late Tom Zbyszewski won the regional competition and then finished second at the state finals.

The competition, presented in partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, the Methow Valley Public School Funding Alliance and Methow Arts, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization.