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Las Vegas senior is Nevada Poetry Out Loud champion

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Vanessa Aponte, a senior at Legacy High School in Las Vegas, is the 2019 Nevada State champion of Poetry Out Loud.

The statewide competition for high school students started in the fall with more than 3,500 participants and narrowed to nine regional finalists for Saturday’s championships at the studios of KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting in Reno.

Sparks High School senior Noemi Valdez finished in second place, and Elko High School senior Mikalya de Guzman finished third.

The state championships consisted of three rounds with each poet reciting two poems and then the top three reciting a third poem for the final round. Aponte’s three poems were “The Enigma” by Anne Stevenson, “The Lost Land” by Eavan Boland and “Often rebuked, yet always back returning,” by Emile Bronte.

Aponte, an honors student who plans to attend UNLV and major in psychology and criminal justice before going on to law school, said winning the statewide competition was a dream.

“It means that all the hard work paid off,” she said. “It means all the time I spent with my English teacher just practicing over and over, it all just paid off completely. I’m so grateful.”

Aponte, the daughter of Xavier and Astrid Aponte, will now move on to represent Nevada in the National Poetry Out Loud competition April 30 to May 1 in Washington, D.C.

“I’m happy that I get to represent Nevada,” she said. “I’ve lived here pretty much all my life and so it means a lot that I get to represent my state.”

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The state finals were recorded by KNPB and a 30-minute program will be televised in the weeks ahead.