By Don Nelson
Freshman Lilly Cooley won the Methow Valley School District’s fourth annual Poetry Out Loud competition, featuring 13 students from Liberty Bell High School and the Independent Learning Center, on Dec. 16, edging out 2014 winner Claire Waichler.
Cooley recited “Bleeding Heart,” by Carmen Gimenez Smith, and “The End of the World,” by Dana Gioia, in the event at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp.
Waichler, a senior, finished second in 2013 and took the top spot last year. She recited “Tiger Mask Ritual,” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and “Torque,” by David Rivard.
Taking third place was freshman Madeline Bosco. She recited “More Lies,” by Karin Gottshall, and “Valentine,” by Elinor Wylie.
Cooley qualified to compete in the Eastern Washington Regional Poetry Out Contest in Spokane on Feb. 3. The winner at that event advances to the state finals in March in Tacoma. The Washington state winner goes to the national finals in Washington, D.C., where cash awards will be distributed.
A Liberty Bell student has won the regional competition for three consecutive years. Last year, Rowan Post won in Spokane. He was the runner-up to 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.
Also competing last week were Cash McClane, Nate Hirsch, Koharu Yonebayashi, Tara Dod, Max Layne, Larkin Lucy, Faythe Klopfenstine, Jordyn Rodio, Caleb Smith and Leo Shaw. Peter Aspholm and Aidan Catlin provided musical entertainment.