From a field of 13 Delaware high school students, Cecilia Ergueta, a junior from Wilmington Friends School, earned the title of 2017 Poetry Out Loud State Champion at the state finals at the Smyrna Opera House on Tuesday.

From a competitive field of 13 Delaware high school students, Cecilia Ergueta, a junior from Wilmington Friends School, earned the title of 2017 Poetry Out Loud Delaware Champion at the state finals at the Smyrna Opera House on Tuesday.

The first runner-up was Shalyn Littlejohn from Hodgson Vo-Tech High School in Newark, and the second runner-up was Sam McGarvey from Tall Oaks Classical High School in Bear.

Ergueta’s final recitation, “The True-Blue American” by Delmore Schwartz, earned her high marks with the judges.

For her winning presentation, Ergueta will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. with a chaperone to compete at the national championship April 25-26. Wilmington Friends School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials.

Littlejohn, the first runner-up, will receive $100, and Hodgson Vo-Tech High School will receive $200 for its school library.

The Poetry Out Loud state competition, sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

The Delaware Division of the Arts sponsors the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest program in Delaware schools and the state finals. Competition begins at the classroom level in the fall and culminates with the state finals each spring. Twenty schools and over 2,000 Delaware students participated in the Poetry Out Loud program in the current academic year. The Poetry Out Loud competition is presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.