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Central High Senior Rocks National Poetry Out Loud Semi-Finals

St. Croix Central High School junior Angelique Flemming performed at the National Poetry Out Loud semifinals Tuesday, reciting "Romance" by Claude McKay and "On Quitting" by Edgar Albert Guest.

Flemming won the territory’s 2014 Poetry Out Loud competition in early March, coming out ahead of roughly a dozen students. She was the first student from the St. Croix District to win locally.

According to a release from the Education Department, Flemming stepped on stage at the National Poetry Out Loud competition early Tuesday and, speaking from Washington, D.C., after her performance, Flemming said she "really connected with the feelings portrayed in both poems."

"McKay’s ‘Romance’ is so beautiful. I just wanted to practice it and practice it," Flemming said.

Flemming said it "seemed to me exactly how love should be – not just a crush, but real love."

A budding poet herself, she added that along with the thrill of the competition, one of the best parts of her trip has been getting to know the 52 other contestants.

"The experience has been amazing," she explained. "I’ve really enjoyed meeting the contestants from the other states and sharing some of my interests, thoughts, likes and dislikes. Our conversations have been wonderful."

Competing in Region 1, Flemming was pitted against competitors from Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont Virginia and West Virginia.

The regional was won by the students from New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia, who will compete in Wednesday’s final.

The finals will be streamed live on the web, with three students from each of the three regions vying for the title. The final will be held from 7 to 9:15 p.m. and can be seen live at http://arts.gov//partnerships/poetry-out-loud-national-recitation-contest/webcast-national-semifinals-and-finals.

Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory said the entire department – including the St. Croix Central High School family – heartily congratulates Flemming.

"The territory certainly has been well-represented at this event over the years and Tuesday night was no exception. Watching Angelique on stage was truly a pleasure," Frett-Gregory said. "She was flawless in her delivery and recited each piece with overwhelming expression.”

“Angelique’s talent and passion for the written word really shone through during the competition,” the commissioner continued. “We are truly proud of her accomplishments and also give kudos to her Central High School teachers and coach for their hard work and mentorship."

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

After successful pilot programs in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Poetry Out Loud was launched in high schools nationwide in the spring of 2006 and has grown to involve millions of students across the country.

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