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Md. teen places in poetry competition

UPDATE – Wednesday – 5/1/2013, 3:00 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON – Blessed Sheriff won second place in the Poetry Outloud competition, winning $10,000 for her college fund.

EARLIER – Monday – 4/29/2012. 5 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON – It takes skill to read a three-minute poem out loud, completely from memory and in front of an audience. That skill has landed a local teenager in the finals of a national competition.

Blessed Sheriff, 15, a sophomore at Montgomery high school in Rockville, Md., emerged from her semi-final round Monday as one of three finalists moving on to Tuesday night’s championship round in the Poetry Outloud competition at George Washington University.

In all, nine finalists will be named once the semi-final rounds are complete.

“It’s amazing,” said Sheriff, when asked about moving on to the finals. “I feel really privileged.”

Her secret?

“Just regular practice,” she said, before adding as she laughed, “Just a lot. A lot.”

Poetry Outloud encourages young people to learn about poetry by memorizing and then reciting it. Organizers say more than 375,000 high school students took part at the start of this year’s competition.

Up for grabs is a $20,000 dollar scholarship.

Sheriff says she caught the poetry recital bug a while back in eighth grade.

“I loved how people were able to express themselves and offer this interpretation of poetry, and help others believe in their own interpretation,” she says. “That appealed to me on an emotional level.”

Sheriff plans to go to college after high school and would like to attend medical school one day. She’s also interested in writing.

Congratulations are also in order to the semi-finalists from the District of Columbia and Virginia, Nathalie Dary of Archbishop Carroll High School and Miranda Wack from Fredericksburg Academy.

To watch Sheriff reading in the semi-final round, click here.


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