Tennessee high school students to compete in statewide poetry contest

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- 22 Tennessee high school students from across the state will participate in the 2016 Tennessee Poetry Out Loud State Contest on March 19 in Nashville. The contest winner will go on as state champion to compete in the National Finals May 2-4 in Washington, D.C.

The competing students are:

West Tennessee

Stephanie Bennett, Arlington High School, Arlington

Kesha Burton, Haywood High School, Brownsville

Alexia Buckner, Bolton High School, Arlington

Michelle Mellard, Brighton High School, Brighton

Marquavious Moore, Harding Academy of Memphis, Memphis

Abby Simpson, Saint Benedict, Auburndale

Bailee Ross, Briarcrest Christian High School, Eads

Middle Tennessee

Sarahanne Ferell, Fairview High School, Fairview

Jakob Gonzalez, Daniel McKee Alternative School, Murfreesboro

Sidney McCarty, Clarksville High School, Clarksville

Ansley Moore, Franklin Road Academy, Nashville

Phoenix Tarpy, McEwen High School, McEwen

Grace Whitten, Battle Ground Academy, Franklin

East Tennessee

Daysha Collins, University School, Johnson City

Marissa Corleone, St. George’s Independent School, Collierville

Caroline Garber, Providence Academy, Johnson City

Brennan Humphrey, Hardin Valley Academy, Knoxville

Margie Hussey, Baylor School, Chattanooga

Olivia Odem, East Hamilton High School, Ooltewah

Reniece Scott, Fulton High School, Knoxville

Carly Selby, Cumberland County High School, Crossville

Drew Zimmerman, Heritage High School, Maryville

The Tennessee Arts Commission will host the state contest on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Nashville Children’s Theatre. This event is free and open to the public.

Poetry Out Loud is a National Recitation Contest presented by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission. Students learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition as they master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

The state champion and his/her teacher will receive cash prizes and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship. The first runner-up and his/her teacher will receive cash prizes and the school will receive a stipend for the purchase of poetry books. 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.