CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Greenbrier East High School’s Neely Seams will represent West Virginia at the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C., on April 28-29.

Seams won the state competition hosted by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts on Saturday, March 7, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston.

Tyler Ray of Webster County High School was the runner-up.

Seams recited Mi Historia by David Dominguez, Epitaph on the Tombstone of a Child, the Last of Seven that Died Before by Aphra Behn and Love Song by Dorothy Parker. Her teacher is Kallie Cochran.

Ray’s poems included Broken Promises by David Kirby, Domestic Situation by Ernest Hilbert and Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. His teacher is Greta Cox.

Twenty-three students from high schools in 20 counties competed in the semifinals on Friday, March 6, 2015, 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 are also noted.

Seams received $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national finals. Greenbrier East High School received a $500 stipend to buy poetry books.

As the runner-up, Ray received $100 and $200 for his school library.

West Virginia blacksmith artist Lucas Warner of Roane County created a wrought iron trophy for the winning student and a companion trophy, which will be on display at Greenbrier East High School.

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.

This year, the Poetry Out Loud competition continued to grow. Beginning at the classroom level, more than 3,300 students and 94 teachers at 34 West Virginia high schools participated in the program.

Renée Margocee, director of arts for the division, said “We are proud to be the West Virginia state coordinators for a program that reaches thousands of young people and teachers across the country. The high quality and thoughtful curriculum enables teachers to inspire a love of classical and contemporary poetry.”

For more information about Poetry Out Loud and the state semifinal and final competition, contact Jim Wolfe, arts in education coordinator for the division, at (304) 558-0240.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.


Zane Bowles, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, Fayette County
Kaylee Burdette, Nitro High School, Nitro, Kanawha County (Top 10)
Karissa Cox, Greenbrier West High School, Charmco, Greenbrier County
Sabrina Dahlia, Morgantown High School, Morgantown, Monongalia County (Top 5)
Abbey Delk, Wheeling Park High School, Wheeling, Ohio County (Top 10)
Emily Fedders, Woodrow Wilson High School, Beckley, Raleigh County
Breellen Fleming, Wirt High School, Elizabeth, Wirt County
Alexa Gerrard, Brooke High School, Wellsburg, Brooke County (Top 10)
Caleb Hanna, Richwood High School, Richwood, Nicholas County
Emily Harrell, Capital High School, Charleston, Kanawha County (Top 10)
Sarah Hofmann, Hurricane High School, Hurricane, Putnam County
Brooke King, Ripley High School, Ripley, Jackson County (Top 5)
Gabrielle Marshall, Lyceum Preparatory Academy, Wheeling, Ohio County
Tyler McComas, Cabell Midland High School, Ona, Cabell County (Top 10)
Taylor Miller, East Fairmont High School, Fairmont, Marion County
Penelope Petre, Lewis County High School, Weston, Lewis County
Corey Proctor, West Virginia School for the Blind, Romney, Hampshire County
Tyler Ray, Webster County High School, Upperglade, Webster County (Runner-up)
Mary Grace Rich, Pocahontas County High School, Dunmore, Pocahontas County
Tori Richards, Bridgeport High School, Bridgeport, Harrison County
Josee Robertson, John Marshall High School, Glen Dale, Marshall County
Neely Seams, Greenbrier East High School, Fairlea, Greenbrier County (Winner)
Maria Shibley, Spring Mills High School, Martinsburg, Berkeley County (Top 5)

MEDIA NOTE: Cutlines for attached photographs

POL 2015 champion: (l-r) Chris Sarandon, emcee, Neely Seams, champion from Greenbrier East High School, and Renée Margocee, director of arts

POL 2015 runner-up: (l-r) Renée Margocee, director of arts and Tyler Ray, runner-up from Webster County High School

POL 2015 semifinalists: (l-r) Renée Margocee, director of arts and the Poetry Out Loud semifinalists