CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Webster County High School student Tyler Ray will represent West Virginia at the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contestin Washington, D.C. on April 25-26.

Ray 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 4, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Sarah Beth Ealy of Morgantown High School was the runner-up.

Ray recited Larkinesque by Michael Ryan, Novel by Arthur Rimbaud and Siblings by Patricia Smith.

Ealy’s poems included Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lions by Sandra McPherson and The Albatross by Kate Bass.

Thirty-six students from high schools in 26 counties competed in the semifinals on Friday, March 3, 2017, 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.

Ray received $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national finals. Webster County High School received a $500 stipend to buy poetry books and materials. His teacher is Greta Cox.

As the runner-up, Ealy received $100 and $200 for her school to purchase poetry books and materials. Her teacher is Kevin Colistra.

West Virginia artist Nik Botkin of Kanawha County was commissioned to create the championship award and a companion trophy, which will be on display at Webster County High School.

Poetry Out Loudis 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 Loudcompetition continued to grow. Beginning at the classroom level, 4,585 students and 120 teachers at 44 West Virginia high schools participated in the program.

“We’re very pleased that West Virginia’s teachers and students have not only embraced this program, but excelled.  The student performances were extremely impressive, and that reflects the high quality of the Poetry Out Loud curriculum and the dedication of the teachers who deliver it in the classroom,” said Jim Wolfe, state Poetry Out Loud coordinator and arts in education coordinator for the division.

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

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, 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.

Catharine Whiddon – Berkeley Springs High School, Morgan County (Top 5)
Emily King – Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Upshur County
Cheyenne Meeks – Cameron High School, Marshall County (Top 10)
Ostin Williams – Capital High School, Kanawha County
Jodee Mullins – Chapmanville Regional High School, Logan County
Dalton Miller – East Hardy High School, Hardy County
Daniel Dyal – Fayetteville High School, Fayette County
Sarah Marzouk – George Washington High School, Kanawha County (Top 10)
Trevor Swiger – Grafton High School, Taylor County
Brett Napier – Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County
Elyse Samassekou – Huntington High School, Cabell County
Tate Dixon – Hurricane High School, Putnam County
Kierston Carson – Lewis County High School, Lewis County (Top 5)
Halona Webb – Liberty High School, Raleigh County
Natasha Fowler – Logan High School, Logan County
Ryan Horn – Magnolia High School, Wetzel County
Emily Cales – Meadow Bridge High School, Fayette County
Sarah Beth Ealy – Morgantown High School, Monongalia County (Runner-up)
Beverly Yarber – Nicholas County High School, Nicholas County
Makayla Tyree – Nitro High School, Kanawha County (Top 5)
Anthony Bankers-Beckett – Notre Dame High School, Harrison County
Morgan Harris – Oak Glen High School, Hancock County (Top 10)
Summer Danley – Oak Hill High School, Fayette County
Anya Glover – Paden City High School, Wetzel County
Grayland Emerson Brown – Parkersburg High School, Wood County
Leah Seaman – Philip Barbour High School, Barbour County (Top 10)
Caleb Hanna – Richwood High School, Nicholas County
Jerrod Hildreth – Roane County High School, Roane County
Amber Sturgill – Shady Spring High School, Raleigh County
Kayden Upton – South Charleston High School, Kanawha County
Solange Disasi – Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County
Sabrina Smith – Tyler Consolidated High School, Tyler County
Kristin Wolfe – Union Educational Complex, Grant County
Tyler Ray – Webster County High School, Webster County (Winner)
Isabelle Pethtel – Wirt County High School, Wirt County
Madison Walker – Woodrow Wilson High School, Raleigh County (Top 10)

MEDIA NOTE: A photograph of the winner and runner-up is attached here. Photo credit should read Poetry Out Loud 2017 Winner Tyler Ray (l) and Runner-Up Sarah Beth Ealy (r). Photo by Stephen Brightwell, West Virginia Division of Culture and History.