2008 Poetry Out Loud National Finals

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DC Poetry Out Loud competitor Victor Akosile recites a poem as prompter Molly Thomas-Hicks watches during the National Finals on April 28-29, 2008 at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC.

DC Poetry Out Loud competitor Victor Akosile recites a poem as prompter Molly Thomas-Hicks watches during the National Finals on April 28-29, 2008 at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC.

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Elijah P. Orengo of Georgia and Sequoia J. Jelks of Indiana react as they are named as two of 12 finalists to advance to the National Finals.

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Nevada State Champion Lainey Henderson recites a poem for Senator Harry Reid and his staff during a visit to Congress.

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New Mexico State Champion April Kateri Chavez offers styling assistance to Amber JH Greymorning of Montana before the National Finals.

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Fifty-two champions from every state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands competed during the two-day competition.

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Rhode Island State Champion Andrew Westlake recites "Hero" by Paul Engle.

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Massachussetts State Champion Gabrielle Guarracino recites Mingus at the Showplace by William Matthews.

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U.S. Virgin Islands Champion Shawntay Henry recites Frederick Douglass by Robert E. Hayden at the National Finals.

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The top three: Madison Niermeyer, Shawntay Henry, and Sophia Elena Soberon.

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Charles White with his father, Bill White, after the Finals.

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From left to right ñ Poetry Out Loud judges Leslie Schwartz, Luis Rodriguez, NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, Don Selby, Natasha Trethewey, Garrison Keillor, Amanda Fernandez, and Poetry Foundation President John Barr.

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South Dakota Champion Elsa Vande Vegte receives an autograph from National Finals judge Garrison Keillor.

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Poetry Out Loud state champions after the Finals.

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In the first year that the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in Poetry Out Loud, Shawntay Henry advanced to National Champion from a field of competition with more than 1,500 high schools and 200,000 high school students nationwide.