After being crowned the winner of Wilton High School’s Poetry Out Loud competition for a second consecutive year, senior Haley McHugh went on to represent her school at Connecticut’s state finals round of the poetry recitation competition on March 3.

Thirty-three students from high schools across the state competed in the state-level competition at Manchester Community College, where Haley was one of six students to advance to the third round.

As a prize, she and the other finalists received tickets to the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and The Sunken Garden Poetry Anthology.

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts and encourages students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to learn about poetry through memorization and recitation. Students first compete at the classroom level and the winners advance to school-wide competitions.

The school-wide competition at Wilton High School consisted of two rounds, during which 12 finalists recited poems in the Little Theater before four judges, family members and fellow students. Freshman Adarsh Varghese and junior Julia Rothstein earned accolades as runners-up.

School-level winners go on to compete in state-level competitions, and each state winner goes on to compete for the national championship in Washington, D.C.

Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 schools.

To learn more about Poetry Out Loud, visit poetryoutloud.org.