The winner and runner up to the state Poetry Out Loud Competition visited the Washington State Senate on Friday. Runner up Gabriella Sipe of Olympia High School and winner Alex Hanesworth of Anacortes High School were recognized before the Senate.

2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the competition. Through Poetry Out Loud, students learn how to connect with and analyze literature, build confidence, and master public speaking skills.

“From 22,000 Washington students who participated to just 13 finalists, Alex and Gabriella should be very proud of their accomplishments,” said Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County. “I know I am.”

As the winner, Alex Hanesworth will represent Washington State at the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in Washington D.C. at the end of this month. She will compete for a $20,000 grand prize.

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition that encourages youth to learn more about poetry through memorization and performance. The state competition is sponsored by ArtsWA, the State’s Art Commission. Participating students may select classic and contemporary poems from a free anthology of more than 800 poems sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for the Poetry Out Loud program.