Twelve MMI students compete in school level Poetry Out Loud competition


(Freeland, PA – October 30, 2015) – Twelve MMI students recently competed in the school level Poetry Out Loud competition.

Freshman Andrew Decker finished first and will represent MMI in the televised Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition on December 15 at the WVIA-TV studios in Pittston.

Decker, the son of Aaron Decker of Kingston and Elizabeth and Troy Topolski of Sugarloaf, finished first among the 12 students who competed to select MMI’s representative. Gabriella DeMelfi, daughter of Daniel and Esme DeMelfi of Hazleton, was second and Erin Sari, daughter of Izzet and Mumine Sari of Sugarloaf, came in third in the school’s contest.

Also competing in MMI’s school level contest were: Lois Polashenski, daughter of Robert and Kathleen Polashenski of Freeland; Sydney Karpowich, daughter of Atty. Donald Karpowich and Tracey Gallagher of Sugarloaf; Anna Haber, daughter of Dr. John and Cathryn Haber of Tresckow; Chava Kornblatt, daughter of Joseph and Georgia Kornblatt of Kingston; Julia Snyder, daughter of Dr. Christopher and Dr. Jill Snyder of Sugarloaf; Joshua Narrow, son of Howard and Marie Narrow of Hazleton; Eric Degenhart, son of Dr. John and Janet Degenhart of Hazleton; Charles Bower, son of Tracy and Stephen Tichy of Freeland; and William Bower, son of Dr. Kathy Young of Sugarloaf and Philip Bower of Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Jennifer Novotney, Nancy Lotz, Donna Titus and Madison Below served as judges and Novotney and Lotz were faculty advisers.

Decker will compete against other students from throughout the area at regionals, with the winner moving on to the state finals in March of 2016. Students will recite two poems each and the top five will recite a third poem during the competition. The local regional event will feature students from Luzerne, Lackawanna, northwestern Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and eastern Wyoming counties and is under the direction of Arts in Education of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19.

Poetry Out Loud starts at the classroom level, moving on to school-wide competition. Regional, state, and ultimately the National Finals follow. State final winners receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Finals. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

The competition is part of the coupling of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation with U.S. state arts agencies. The idea of the contest is for the nation’s youth to learn more about great poetry through memorization and recitation, improving public speaking skills, self-confidence and students’ knowledge of their literary heritage.

More information can be found at

CAPTION: Andrew Decker, second row center, will represent MMI at the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition in December after winning the school’s in-house competition. Additional MMI students who participated in the school competition and their faculty advisers are, first row, from left: MMI instructor Jennifer Novotney, Erin Sari, Lois Polashenski, Gabby DeMelfi, Sydney Karpowich, Anna Haber, Chava Kornblatt, Julia Snyder and MMI insructor Donna Titus. Second row: MMI instructor Nancy Lotz, Joshua Narrow, Eric Degenhart, Andrew Decker, Charles Bower, William Bower and MMI counselor Madison Below.

About MMI Preparatory School

For more than 130 years, MMI Preparatory School has been providing dedicated area students with a comprehensive and inspiring 6th through 12th grade college preparatory program that maximizes each individual’s academic, social and character potential in preparation for success in college and beyond. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS).  MMI is a school where every student can reach their full potential: academically, ethically and socially.  For more information about MMI Preparatory School, visit or call 570-636-1108.