Media Alert: 2019 Poetry Out Loud State Finals – Tuesday, Feb. 26

Twelve Delaware high school students to compete for the state title

February 22, 2019

WHAT: Twelve Delaware high school students will participate in the state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest at Smyrna Opera House. The winner of this competition will represent Delaware and advance to the National Finals in Washington, DC on April 29 – May 1, 2019, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed. This program is sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. Students start arriving at 5 p.m.

WHERE: Smyrna Opera House, 7 W South Street, Smyrna, DE 19977

WHO: Finalists, Featured Speakers and Judges will be:


2019 Delaware State Finalists

Name School
Emma Elliott Dover High School
Chelsea Anokye-Agyei Hodgson Vo-Tech High School
Sarah Stevenson Milford Senior High School
Nadia Sheikh MOT Charter High School
Daniel Patrick Johnson Mount Sophia Academy
Megan Chen Newark Charter High School
Ashton Driver Red Lion Christian Academy
Anne Rosenthal Sanford School
Brandon Greenlee Sussex Central High School
Samuel McGarvey Tall Oaks Classical School
Catherine Enslen Ursuline Academy
Mariela Rivero Wilmington Christian School

Speakers and judges will be:


Paul Weagraff, Director, Delaware Division of the Arts

J. Mack Wathen, Chair, Delaware State Arts Council

Mistress of Ceremonies:

Donna DeKuyper, Singer, Actress and Co-Owner, Hotel Blue, Lewes, DE


Dr. Ethan Joella, English and Social Sciences Faculty, University of Delaware, Georgetown, Director, Ethan Joella Communications

Susan Kehoe, Managing Partner, Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, DE

Reverend John G. Moore, Director, Philanthropy and Engagement, United Way of Delaware

Chet’la Sebree, 2019 Individual Artist Fellow – Poetry

Dr. David Teague, Professor of English, Associate in Arts Program, University of Delaware

Dr. Jesse Zuba, Assistant Professor of English, Delaware State University

Christian Wills, Former Poetry Out Loud Contestant will serve as the Prompter

Heather Morrissey, Delaware State Arts Council Member will serve as Accuracy Judge


JW2, is made up of James Witherite (organ) and Jonathan W. Whitney (drums), who bring their own originals and favorites from the jazz, funk, and old-school R&B genres to life.

OTHER: Attendance at Smyrna Opera House is free and open to the public. The 2019 Poetry Out Loud Media Kit for this event is available on our website. Hi-Res photos will be available the day after the event. Use hashtags: #POL19, #iampoetryoutloud, and #DDOA30. Tag us at: @ArtsDelaware



Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing

Conference To Prepare Hundreds Of Students With Disabilities For Future Careers


Sharon Boland
DOL Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
302.761.8238 (office) or 302.757.6260 (cell)


Wilmington, DE, December 6, 2018 — On December 12th from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., hundreds of local high school students with disabilities will attend an all-day transition conference at the Dover Downs Hotel in Dover, DE, focusing on their future career and employment goals as well as learning what’s current in transition services for youth with disabilities in Delaware.

Transition services include career counseling, work-based learning opportunities, soft skills instruction and preparation for postsecondary choices leading to employment. Now in its 17th year, the “Transition and Self-Determination Conference” plays a key role in helping students with disabilities make informed choices
after high school by providing access to resources and employment information. This one day – parents, educators, vocational rehabilitation staff, and community organizations along with many other stakeholders – come together to provide resources to help students transition smoothly from school to post-secondary education and careers.

Self-determination and learning the importance networking and community participation in the transition planning process are key themes of the event. Self-determination is the process of taking control and making decisions that affect one’s life. The keynote presentation focuses on a mix of these themes and features the writer and cast from “Boundless! A Musical Journey,” a stage performance featuring Delawareans with disabilities based on a famous “Free Our People” March that took place in 2003.

The writer of the show, George Tilson, will facilitate a panel discussion with several of the performers from the show. They will share what they learned about self-determination, employability skills, and even career exploration through the audition process, improvisational workshops, and rehearsals, leading to performances in front of live audiences.

“All students, including those with disabilities need to develop a career pathway leading to successful employment,” said Delaware Department of Labor Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Director Andrea Guest. “The Transition Conference provides tools for self-advocacy and self-determination and the opportunity
for students to learn how to reach their career goals.”

The conference offers 25 workshops for students and adults shaped around the supportive nature of the transition community and important youth topics including employment, soft skills, sexuality, self-determination,
self-advocacy, leading your individualized education plan (IEP) meeting, and work-based learning. Sessions include, “Learn Job Expectations and How to Sustain Employment,” “Leading your IEP Meeting! It’s Important to You and Critical to Your Success,” “Shared Vision + Capacity Parents = Greater Student Outcomes,” and “Transition from High School to College: What Every Student Should Know.” Each workshop will be opened by a Youth Leader who will share their desired career path and what self-determination means to them.

The charge of the day is education, excitement, and empowerment. Participation and sharing are keys and
to facilitate this.

“This type of conference is very important so students learn before graduation about all of the resources available to them,” said DOL Cerron Cade. “Our state may be small in size but we have a tremendous amount of career planning and employment resources for people with disabilities.”

The conference is a collaborative effort between the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR),
the Department of Education (DOE), Division for Visually Impaired (DVI), and the Division of Development Disabilities Services (DDDS) along with a variety of other agencies and organizations.

The Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is committed to providing individualized services to employers and people with disabilities, developing career pathways that link qualified employees to jobs, resulting in greater independence and a more inclusive workplace.


The Delaware Division of the Arts to Host Annual Poetry Out Loud State Final Competition

Twelve students to compete to advance to the National Finals in DC

Dover, Del. (February 14, 2018) – From a competitive field of 20 Delaware high school students, 12 remain to compete at the statewide recitation competition that will be held at a new location this year, Dover High School on Tuesday, February 27 at 7 p.m.

The finalists will compete for the opportunity to represent Delaware and advance to the National Finals in Washington from April 24-25, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

2018 Delaware State Finalists

Chelsea Anokye-Agyei Hodgson Vo-Tech High School
Matthew Byer Wilmington Friends School
Avery Chambers Caravel Academy
Julian Clark Middletown High School
Andrew Dingwall Wilmington Christian School
Whitney Grinnage-Cassidy Ursuline Academy
Melina Hudson Milford Senior High School
Tyler Keeler Laurel High School
Giovani  Malcolm Concord High School
Richard Matthews Dover High School
Samuel McGarvey Tall Oaks Classical School
Dounya Ramadan Newark Charter Jr./Sr. High School

The competition encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest is sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA.


Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing

The Delaware Division of the Arts, a branch of the Delaware Department of State, is dedicated to cultivating and supporting the arts to enhance the quality of life for all Delawareans. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. For more information about the Delaware Division of the Arts, visit or call 302-577-8278.

Banner image: 2016 Delaware Poetry Out Loud State Finalist, Hannah Sturgis. Photo by: Kathleen Buckalew


Ford Driving Skills For Life Teen Driver Safety Events

Dover-  Do you have a young driver in your house? Do they think they are a safe driver? Through a Ford Motor Company Driving Skills for Life Grant, The Office of Highway Safety, along with the state’s Teen Driver Task Force and other partners, will be hosting two teen driver safety events this month for parents and teens. Parents and teens will participate in several interactive stations together to build their driving relationship in a positive way. The event is open to students from all Delaware high schools regardless of event location. In addition, students will be entered into a drawing for a scholarship if they attend one of the events and complete all of the activities. A total of 6 scholarships will be randomly awarded. Three scholarships will be given away following each event. First place will be awarded $1,500, second place will be awarded $1,000 and third place will be awarded $500.

The events are scheduled for:
Saturday Sept. 19, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sussex Technical High School
17099 County Seat Highway
Georgetown, DE 19947

Saturday Sept. 26, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
St. Marks High School
2501 Pike Creek Rd.
Wilmington, DE 19808

Each event will include two guest speakers on teen driving issues, Tim Hollister and Jennifer Macauley. Tim Hollister is a fellow parent and has become a national authority and spokesperson for safer teen driving since he lost his 17 year old son Reid in a car crash in 2006. He served on the Connecticut state taskforce that overhauled the state’s teen driver laws. He has also written a book Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, an informative and vital guide for parents to help them understand the causes of teen crashes and head them off before their teen gets behind the wheel. Copies of Hollister’s book will be distributed to parents at both events. (

The second speaker, Jennifer Macauley, was hit at an intersection in August 2004 when a large truck ran a red light (unknown cause) and struck her car on the driver’s side. She was 20 years old at the time and had just graduated from Cecil County Community College three months prior. Jen was admitted to Christiana Care’s trauma ICU for a traumatic brain injury. She was eventually transferred to Bryn Mawr rehabilitation hospital to learn to walk, talk and take care of herself again.

Additional event activities include Christiana Care’s distracted driving simulator, Smart Drive’s SIDNE Driving Simulators and Distraction and Reaction, Delaware State Police’s No Zone Truck Display, Delaware State Police’s Rollover seat belt convincer, Safe Driving Pledge Display, and information tables with Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), State Farm, and AAA.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the U.S. There are over 33,000 licensed teen drivers in Delaware. Teen drivers account for five percent of all drivers in Delaware yet are involved in approximately 15 percent of all reportable crashes in Delaware.

The events are funded through a grant from Ford Motor Company’s teen safe driving program and supported by the state’s Teen Driver Task Force and other partners including Smart Drive, DMV, DSP, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Christiana Care, State Farm, Delaware Safety Council and Delaware Safety Driver’s Education Association of driver’s education teachers.

For more information and resources for teen drivers and the Graduated Driver License visit OHS website at or visit