High School Students in West Virginia Invited to Compete in National Poetry Recitation Contest

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Culture and History invites high school educators from across the state to encourage students to participate in the 2014-2015 Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. Public and private high school teachers and homeschool associations must register to participate by Dec. 1.

The national program, now in its 10th year, is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, in partnership with the division.  It is a challenging opportunity for high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

“Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to develop a deeper appreciation for great poetry,” said Jim Wolfe, arts in education coordinator for the division. “Participating in this program gives students an opportunity to consider classic and contemporary poems in depth, and developing their own interpretations leads them to a better understanding of the poem’s message and a better understanding of themselves.”      

Local school competitions take place from November 2014 to January 2015. Winners in these classroom and school competitions will move to the state finals at the Culture Center March 6-7; the state champion advances to the national competition in Washington, D.C., April 28-29.

“In the 2013-2014 school year, 30 West Virginia high schools held competitions,” Wolfe said.  “Ninety-one teachers worked with 3,178  students at the local levels. Twenty-four finalists competed at the state event.”

Austin Gage of Wheeling Park  High School, Wheeling, Ohio County, was the 2014 state champion and represented the state in national competition. He was one of nine national finalists, winning $1,000 and $500 for his school to purchase poetry books.

State arts agencies like the Division of Culture and History receive free, standards-based curriculum materials for use by participating public and private high schools. The materials include print and online poetry anthologies, a Teacher’s Guide with sample lesson plans to help instructors teach recitation and performance, and a Learning Recitation DVD. Program materials are available from the division or by download at, which offers additional resources.     

The state champion will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. The state champion’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up will receive $100, and $200 for his or her school library. Poetry Out Loud will award a total of $50,000 in cash and school stipends at the national finals, including a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

For more information and to register, visit and contact Wolfe at (304)-558-0240 or

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.

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