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 May 3-4.

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 5, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. She was the West Virginia State Champion last year as well.

Abbey Delk of Wheeling Park High School was the runner-up.

Seams recited Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg by Richard Hugo, Insomnia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Passing by Toi Derricotte.

Delk’s poems included Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Revenge by Letitia Elizabeth Landon and Requests for Toy Piano by Tony Hoagland.

Thirty-four students from high schools in 22 counties competed in the semifinals on Friday, March 4, 2016, 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. Her teacher is Kallie Cochran.

As the runner-up, Delk received $100 and $200 for her school library. Her teacher is Gail Adams.

West Virginia woodworking artist Matt Thomas of Gilmer County was commissioned to create  the championship award 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 4,500 students and 112 teachers at 41 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.


Sydney Hosfeld – Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Upshur County
Rawan Elhamdani – Cabell Midland High School, Cabell County (Top 5)
Cheyenne Meeks – Cameron High School, Marshall County
Ben Bradley – Capital High School, Kanawha County
D.J. Conley – Chapmanville Regional High School, Logan County
Dalton Miller – East Hardy High School, Hardy County
Neely Seams – Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County (Winner)
Shannon Brunzo-Hager – Greenbrier West High School, Greenbrier County
Zadokite Wood – Huntington High School, Cabell County
Njeri Segrest-Brooks – Hurricane High School, Putnam County
Josee Robertson – John Marshall High School, Marshall County
Halona Webb – Liberty High School, Raleigh County (Top 10)
Ja’keh Terry – Lincoln High School, Harrison County
Alexis Morgan – Logan High School, Logan County
Gabrielle Marshall – Lyceum Preparatory Academy, Ohio County
Ryan Horn – Magnolia High School, Wetzel County
Zane Bowles – Meadow Bridge High School, Fayette County
Sarah Beth Ealy – Morgantown High School, Monongalia County (Top 5)
Mason Yarber – Nicholas County High School, Nicholas County
Jacob Lesher – Nitro High School, Kanawha County
Caroline McKee – Notre Dame High School, Harrison County
Isaac Price – Paden City High School, Wetzel County
Brent West – Parkersburg High School, Wood County
Caleb Hanna – Richwood High School, Nicholas County (Top 5)
Brooke King – Ripley High School, Jackson County (Top 10)
Sarina Branson – Riverside High School, Kanawha County
Shayla Stanley – Roane County High School, Roane County (Top 10)
Brittney Bragg – Shady Spring High School, Raleigh County
Kaitlyn Boyd – Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County (Top 10)
Kristin Wolfe – Union Educational Complex, Grant County
Tyler Ray – Webster County High School, Webster County (Top 10)
Abbey Delk – Wheeling Park High School, Ohio County (Runner-up)
Brady Ohrn – Wirt County High School, Wirt County
Madison Walker – Woodrow Wilson High School, Raleigh County

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