RED BANK, NJ – The national competition, presented in partnership with the NEW JERSEY STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS, writers theatre of New Jersey, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition

Competitors have been announced for the regional Monmouth / Ocean / Middlesex county round of the annual, national Poetry Out Loud competition, hosted by the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy on Tuesday, February 7th at 10am. 

Winners of this and five other regional rounds will move on to compete in the state competition in April at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. The Monmouth / Ocean / Middlesex county competition will choose two winners.

This year’s Monmouth / Ocean / Middlesex county competitors are:

Nora Asker (Freshman, Noor UI-Iman)


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Sarah Baum (Junior, Marlboro High School)

Kristen Bray (Senior, Howell High School)

Megan Brown (Freshman, Ocean County Vocational Tech School – Performing Arts Academy)

Alexa Cahill (Senior, Middletown High School North)

Marlene Fernandez (Sophomore, Central Regional High School)

Samantha Ferreira (Senior, Colonia High School)

Julia Forsyth (Junior, Henry Hudson Regional School)

Anthony Forte (Junior, Barnegat High School)

Alec Gousett (Senior, Colts Neck High School)

Shea Grant (Sophomore, Red Bank Regional High School)

Danyal Malik (Senior, Holmdel High School)

Gisselle Martinez (Sophomore, South River High School)

Joseph Paolantonio (Junior, Monmouth Regional High School)

Karielys Rivera (Junior, Freehold High School)

Alexandra Szewczyk (Senior, Shore Regional High School)

Sophia Turci (Junior, Piscataway High School)

Daniel Wall (Senior, John P. Stevens High School)

Adi Zacks (Junior, Spotswood High School)

Over the past 11 years, Poetry Out Loud has reached more than 3 million students and 45,000 teachers from 10,000 schools nationwide. On Feb. 7, two winners will advance to the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition on March 9th at The College of New Jersey’s Mayo Concert Hall at The Center for the Arts. From there, one state champion will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C. where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.


Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then regional and state rounds. During the competition, students recite works they select from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Judges then evaluate student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy.

In the event of inclement weather, the Monmouth / Ocean / Middlesex round will be held on Tuesday, February 14th at 10am at the Basie’s Performing Arts Center building. 


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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...