CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bridgeport High School student Morgan Sprouse will represent West Virginia in the 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Finals. All 55 state and jurisdictional finalists will participate in the national semifinals, streaming on Sunday, May 1, 2022, with nine students advancing to the national finals, streaming on Sunday, June 5.  Both the semifinals and finals will be streamed at  

Sprouse won the state competition hosted by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History (WVDACH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts on Saturday, March 12, at the Culture Center in Charleston. Willow Peyton of St. Marys High School was the runner-up.

Sprouse recited “Mansplaining” by Jennifer Militello, “Ways of Talking” by Ha Jin and “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

Peyton recited “the world is about to end and my grandparents are in love”by Kara Jackson, “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “Eating Poetry” by Mark Strand.

Thirty-nine students from high schools in 27 counties competed in the semifinals on Friday, March 11, 2022, with the top 10 contestants competing Saturday in the state final. A complete list of semifinalists and their schools is attached. Top 10 finalists and Top 5 finalists also are noted.

Morgan Sprouse will receive $200 and the opportunity to represent West Virginia in the Poetry Out Loud National Finals. Bridgeport High School will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. The school’s Poetry Out Loud coordinator is Jared St. Martin Brown.  

As the runner-up, Willow Peyton will receive $100, and her school will receive $200 to purchase poetry materials. St. Marys High School’s Poetry Out Loud coordinator is Paige Cook. 

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry Magazine, the oldest English-language monthly publication dedicated to verse. The program is designed to encourage high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

Beginning at the classroom level, nearly 4,000 students and more than 100 teachers at 50 West Virginia high schools participated in the Poetry Out Loud program this year.

For more information about Poetry Out Loud and the state final competition, contact Jim Wolfe at (304) 558-0240 or


Berkeley Springs High School – Emma Christie

Bridgeport High School – Morgan Sprouse (State Champion) 

Buckhannon Upshur High School – Haley Butcher (Top 5)

Cabell Midland High School – Alexandria Chapman

Capital High School – Ashley Miller

Clay Battelle High School – Ella Lybarger

East Hardy High School – Brianna Walker

Elkins High School – Rylee Gard

Fairmont Senior High School – Ava McMullen

George Washington High School – Jessica Tenney (Top 5)

Gilmer County High School – McKinzie White (Top 5)

Greenbrier East High School – Hannah Buly

Hurricane High School – Sarah Davis

John Marshall High School – Angestura Kash

Lewis County High School – Aylah Johnson (Top 10)

Lincoln High School – Wesley Benson

Logan High School – Brooke Ooten (Top 10)

Magnolia High School – Vanessa Cogar

Meadow Bridge High School – Michael Simmons

Morgantown High School – Isabella Ferrell

Mount Hope Christian Academy – Kafele Nelson

Nicholas County High School – Olivia Short (Top 10)

Notre Dame High School – Ashton Nardella (Top 10) 

Oak Glen High School – Sofia Kefer

Paden City High School – Serenity Strother

Parkersburg High School – Lilly Alexander

Paw Paw High School – Dreden Heath

Philip Barbour High School – Tara L. Rice

Roane County High School – Carly Harper

Shady Spring High School – Makayla Schrader

South Charleston High School – Cheyenne Baker (Top 10) 

Spring Mills High School – Bronte Stump

St. Albans High School – Rosemarie Tagayun

St. Marys High School – Willow Peyton (Runner-up) 

Valley High School (Wetzel County) – Bella Wyatt

Webster County High School – Logan Vandevender

Weir High School – Andrew Manteau

Wheeling Park High School – Ava Mick

Woodrow Wilson High School – Lani Misch

MEDIA NOTE: The attached photographs are the winner and runner-up. For photographs of other participants, please contact

Photo 1:

Left: Morgan Sprouse, Bridgeport High School, Harrison County, West Virginia State Poetry Out Loud Champion and right: Willow Peyton, St. Marys High School, Pleasants County, West Virginia State Poetry Out Loud Runner-up.

Photo 2:

Morgan Sprouse, Bridgeport High School, Harrison County, West Virginia State Poetry Out Loud Champion

Photo 3:

Willow Peyton, St. Marys High School, Pleasants County, West Virginia State Poetry Out Loud Runner-up