McKinney Named Local Poetry Out Loud Winner

McKinney will move on to the Regional Competition on January 16


Todd Cammarata

2022-23 Poetry Out Loud local winner Ashlynn McKinney

Senior Ashlynn McKinney is Tyrone Area’s 2023 Poetry Out Loud (POL) Local Champion. She won the title by besting four speakers in front of a live audience at the Tyrone Area High School library on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, at 6:00 PM.

“I was very surprised to win,” McKinney said. “I was against a lot of other very strong competitors, and it was fun to go against them.”

Senior Laci Daniel came in second place.

“I’m so happy that I was able to get runner-up!” she said.

I was very surprised to win. I was against a lot of other very strong competitors, and it was fun to go against them.”

— Ashlynn McKinney

Kenneth Sorokie, Alysa Wheland, and Remington Weaver also competed in the event where each speaker recited two poems from memory. Three content judges and one accuracy judge evaluated their recitations.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

The event also featured two recitations by 2022 POL Pennsylvania State Champion and 2022 POL National Finalist Mario Grugan and A Christmas Carol excerpt from local author Keith Eldred, who is memorizing the entire book as part of the THIS IS RED project, which benefits the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library.

“It was great to have Mario and Keith in-house,” Leah Deskevich, TAHS Speech Team Coach, said. “They helped bookend a wonderful night of poetry.”

Speech Team members Lily Whited, Reilly Rawlings, Elise Kubarek, and Pyper Sparklin added to the line-up by reading poet biographies between recitations.

“Everyone participating worked so hard and really spoke with passion and meaning,” Kubarek said.

McKinney will compete at the regional competition, a remote contest organized by the Southern Allegheny Museum of the Arts, the week of January 16, with hopes of moving on to POL State Finals in March and POL National Semifinals and Finals in May.