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Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest

January-May 2006
Richland and Lexington Counties

The South Carolina Arts Commission was proud to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to bring the "Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest" to high schools in the capital region of Richland and Lexington counties. This national contest encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

In early 2006, schools in each state capital region participated in classroom and school-wide contests, and will advance to state competitions in April. The National Endowment for the Arts hosted the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on May 16, 2006 in Washington, DC, at which thousands of dollars in scholarships were be awarded. The contest is being taken state-wide in South Carolina during the 2006-2007 school year.


The 2005-2006 Poetry Out Loud program partners were the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, the South Carolina Poetry Initiative, Split P Soup, and the Poet Laureate of South Carolina.

For more information:

South Carolina's state competition took place Saturday, April 8, 2006 at the Columbia Museum of Art. Congratulations to Richland Northeast High School student Elizabeth Stepp, who won first prize in the South Carolina state finals, and Irmo High School student Avery Bateman, who received second prize.

2006 Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest School Winners

Richland Northeast High School - Elizabeth Stepp - South Carolina State Finals First Prize Winner

  • "Conversation" - Ai

  • "A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General" - Jonathan Swift

  • A Supermarket in California " - Allen Ginsberg

Elizabeth SteppElizabeth Stepp is a sophomore in the PCA drama program at Richland Northeast High School. During the summer, she works at a camp for individuals with special needs. She enjoys traveling with her family and acting with them in community theatre. She also, writes, directs and acts for a filmaking company called FuzzyLogic Productions. After high school, Elizabeth wishes to study abroad for one year and then major in acting and psychology at either New York University or College of Charleston.

Irmo High School - Avery Bateman - South Carolina State Finals Second Prize Winner

  • "How do I love thee" - Elizabeth Barett Browning
  • "To the Virgins, make much of time" - Robert Herrick
  • "I think I should have loved you presently" - Edna St. Vincent Millay

Avery Bateman is in the eleventh grade at Irmo High School. She is involved in the drama, choral, visual arts department at her school and also studies dance at Columbia Conservatory. She loves to write stories and poetry and plans to follow a successful career path in art.

Brookland-Cayce High School - Azmi Abusam

  • "Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100" - Martin Espada
  • "The Spider and the Fly" - Mary Howitt
  • "Playing Dead" - Andrew Hudgins

Azmi Ahmed Abusam was born in Sudan and came to America when he was six-years old. It took him about three years to learn English, and he lost his accent quickly. Azmi is an aspiring actor and loves to speak and be heard. His creative writing teacher exposed him to one of his passions, which is performing poetry. In addition to acting and performing poetry, Azmi loves playing basketabll, reading, writing, and spending time with his family.

C.A. Johnson Preparatory Academy - Tiara Ellis

  • "Ballad of Birmingham " - Dudley Randle
  • "How Do I Love Thee" - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • "To The Ladies" - Lady Mary Chudleigh

Tiara EllisTiara Ellis is a tenth grade honor student at C. A. Johnson Preparatory Academy , where she is involved in the Spoken Word Club and other extra-curricular activities. Tiara loves participating in poetry contests writing and reciting her own poems. She is an active member of Kingdom Vision Church , where she sings in the choir. Tiara is the daughter of Ms. Dianne Ellis.

Dreher High School - Abigail Khushf

  • "Siren Song" - Margaret Atwood
  • "Dulce et Decorum Est" - Wlifred Owen
  • "Learning to Love America " - Shirley Geok-Lin Lim OR " Dover Beach " - Matthew Arnold

Abigail Khushf is currently a freshman at Dreher High School. Born in Texas, but raised in South Carolina, she is the daughter of George and Cheryl Khushf. She states that "My parents inspire me to reach for the stars and they have taught me that it's better to stand my ground than to always go with the flow." Abby wants to be a video game designer, in order to create the characters that she loves to play. She believes that interpreting poetry is like creating those characters and that through interpretation, she plays the game!

Keenan High School - Angelica Washington

  • "Still I Rise" - Maya Angelou
  • "Mother to Son" - Langston Hughes
  • "I, too" - Langston Hughes

Angelica Washington is a freshman at W.J. Keenan High School . She enjoys dancing and singing. Her favorite class is English. She loves to write her own poems. She is interesting in going into the military when she completes college.

Lexington High School - Jordan Steinhauser

  • "Yet Do I Marvel" - Countee Cullen
  • "Jabberwocky" - Lewis Carroll
  • "Let it Be Forgotten" - Sara Teasdale

Jordan Steinhauser is a 15 year old freshman at Lexington High School . She lives with her parents, brother, and dog and enjoys dancing, drama, and cooking. She is an aspiring actress who enjoys performing in community plays. She loves to spend time with friends and try new things.

Ridgeview High School - Rachel Hipp

  • "Mingus at the Showplace" - William Matthews
  • "Over the Roofs" - Sara Teasdale
  • "Litany" - Billy Collins

Rachel Victoria Hipp is an 18 year old senior at Ridge View High School . She currently balances her time at school with multiple extra curricular activities and two jobs. Rachel enjoys composing poetry that leans toward metaphorical representations, automotive settings, and her proclivity for the opposite sex. She has been co-editor of the Ridge View high school literary magazine for the past two years and hopes to major in English at the University of South Carolina at Columbia in the fall. Her life aspiration is to either become a professor at a prestigious university or pursue a career in politics.