RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The first annual Capital Region Poetry Slam will take place at The Doane Stuart School on April 18 at 7 p.m. The region-wide event is open to high school students in grades 9-12.

Students are invited to register and submit their poems online by March 31. A select group of entrants will then be invited to participate in the live event on April 18.

A panel of five judges, ranging from a John Hopkins professor to a well-known author, will evaluate student performances. The first-place student will go home with $500, with $250 and $100 going to the second-and-third-place finishers, respectively.

“This has the potential to really make a significant impact on a child’s future,” said Marcy Cathey, Head of School at Doane Stuart. “We’re thrilled that it’s happening at Doane Stuart because helping our young people find their passions and be prepared to follow them when they graduate from high school is why we are here.”

Cathey and the team at Doane Stuart have been planning for the poetry slam since last September. Joelle Russo, English Teacher at Doane Stuart and co-creator of the slam shared, “The Poetry Slam is going to be a really special experience. Poetry is such an important genre and is an excellent way for students to express feelings and concerns about the world around them.” Russo went on to say, “It’s not easy for these students to put themselves out there and share their writing on the stage. It’s an act of courage and bravery.”

While registration for the event is open through March 31, organizers say entries have already started pouring in. Students interested in registering can do so online, or email for more information.