Photo of the 14 Regional Finalists by Gayle Cluck

Photo of the 14 Regional Finalists by Gayle Cluck

By Heather Doughty, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

Greer LeRoy, a sophomore at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Beaver County is Pennsylvania’s 2016 Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest state champion. LeRoy will represent Pennsylvania in the national con-test in Washington, D.C. on May 2-4.

The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts hosted the competition at The State Muse-um of Pennsylvania Auditorium in Harrisburg. Governor Tom Wolf welcomed the 14 finalists from across the state to the capital city. “Arts are a critical component of a young person’s education. Young people need creative expression as a significant part of their educational experience,” Governor Wolf said. “It’s a pleasure to join in celebrating the achievements of these students competing to represent the Commonwealth at the National Finals for Poetry Out Loud in Washington, D.C.”

LeRoy received a $200 from The Poetry Foundation and an expense-paid trip to the national championship. Second place went to KiraJayne Burkhauser, a senior in the Hermitage School District.

Over 7,000 high school aged students participated in this year’s competition from 122 schools across the commonwealth. The contest is facilitated through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and its regional partners.

Students memorized and performed three poems selected from poetry anthologies and were judged on voice and articulation, physical presence, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of under-standing, overall performance, and accuracy.

The 12 other regional finalists that competed in the PA State Finals were Lauren Atwell, St. Marys Area School District; Elizabeth Catalano, Hollidaysburg Area School District; Isabel Gonzalez, Reading School District; Anna Hershey, Juniata County School District; Mary Huffman, Scranton School District; Abbi Knouse, Warwick School District; Jessica Lehman, Merion Mercy Academy; Loren McCullough, Easton Area School District; Lillian Rauss, Indiana Area School District; Renee Short, Derry Area School District; Arianna Smith, Bloomsburg Christian School; and Ulysses Yarber, State College Area School District.

Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, visit or call 717-787-6883. For further information on Poetry Out Loud, visit