In 2016 the Virginia Commission for the Arts organized five regional Poetry Out Loud competitions and one statewide final through partnerships with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The 2016 regional competitions included representation of 29 school districts, 50 schools, and 49 school-wide champions.
On Friday, March 18, 2016, twelve regional competitors from across the Commonwealth convened at the Community Idea Stations WCVE (Richmond) to compete for the title of Poetry Out Loud Virginia State Champion and the opportunity to represent Virginia at the national competition taking place May 2-4, 2016 at the Lisner Auditorium, Washington, DC. Winning the second year in a row, Ahkei Togun of Tallwood High School (Virginia Beach) took top honors reciting “Bereavement” by William Lisle Bowles. First runner-up was Charisma Henry, a sophomore at Woodson High School (Fairfax) and second runner-up was Elizabeth Lilly, a senior at Norfolk Academy (Norfolk).
Ahkei Togun-2016 Virginia State Champion
Photo Credit: Don Mears Photography
2016 Virginia Finalists
Photo Credit: Don Mears
In order left to right: Ashley McHenry (Broadway), Usman Ishaq (Woodbridge), Micheala Russell (Big Stone Gap), Mckenzie Page (Richmond), Ian Schwartz (Front Royal), Ben Elliot (Staunton), Charisma Henry (Fairfax), Ahkei Togun (Virginia Beach), Elizabeth Lilly (Norfolk), William Jefferson (Richmond), Ellie O’Reilly (Alexandria), and Kayla Vicente (Big Stone Gap)
VCA in partnership with arts organizations across the Commonwealth host Poetry Out Loud regional competitions in their communities. This year our partner organizations were Center for the Arts: The Candy Factory (Manassas), Center Stage (Richmond), Crispus Attucks Cultural, Signature Theatre (Arlington), and Wayne Theatre (Waynesboro). Regional competitors advanced from classroom and school wide competitions. Students at the regional level recited two poems pre-selected from thePoetry Out Loud Anthology in the effort to advance to The Virginia Finals. The two overall highest scoring competitors at the regional level were invited to compete at state competition.
Signature Theatre- Arlington, VA
In order left to right: Ellie O’Reilly, Tiam AzabDaftari, Anna Parnell, Sonya Chinje, Elise Flick, Charisma Henry, Teresa Saddler, Hazel Thurston, Alexandra Ludwinski, Grace Burgess, Kim Salac, and Sandra Quiche Gonzalez
On January 22, 2016, twelve students in Region 4a competed in the Poetry Out Loud competition at The Signature Theatre, Arlington. Students competed from Arlington Mill High School, Chantilly High School, Flint Hill School, George Mason High School, Hale Aloha High School (homeschool), Lake Braddock Secondary School, The Madeira School, Paul VI Catholic High School, Sovereign Grace Homeschool Co-op, The Potomac School, Thomas Jefferson High School, Wakefield High School, Washington-Lee High School, & W.T. Woodson High School. Ellie O’Reilly (Thomas Jefferson High School) and Charisma Henry (W.T. Woodson High School) advanced to the state finals.
Charisma Henry (winner) and Ellie O’Reilly (runner-up)
Center for the Arts: The Candy Factory, Manassas
The Center for the Arts Competitors
Pictured in order left to right: Usman Ishaq, Micaela Wortman, Anna Repp, Julia Post, Vivian Smith, Blaire Collingwood, Ian Schwartz, and Rayna Yu
On February 5, 2016, eight students in Region 4b competed in the Poetry Out Loud competition at Center for the Arts: The Candy Factory, Manassas. Students competed from Chelsea Academy, Colonial Forge High School, Fredericksburg Academy, Freedom High School, Heritage High School, John Handley High School, Tuscarora High School, and Woodbridge Senior High School. Ian Schwartz (Chelsea Academy) and Usman Ishaq (Woodbridge Senior High School) advanced to the Virginia Finals.
Crispus Attucks Cultural Center, Norfolk
On February 10, 2016, eight students in Region 6 competed in the Poetry Out Loud competition at the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center, Norfolk. Students were from Booker T. Washington High School, First Colonial High School, Green Run High School, Landstown High School, Norfolk Academy, Norfolk Collegiate, Salem High School, Tallwood High School. Ahkei Togun winner (Tallwood High School) and Elizabeth Lilly runner-up (Norfolk Academy) advanced to The Virginia Finals.
VCA Commissioners Wanda Judd, Sharron Kichen Miller and Lorita Copeland Daniels were in attendance to congratulate the competitors.
Pictured in order left to right: Gus Beane, Megan Martin, Maggie Brookman, Sheniah Williams, Dakota Prince, Ziwei “Crystal” Zang, William Hunter Jefferson, Eva Chenoweth, Brennan Reid, Naomi Vickers, Isabelle Andrews, Alyssa Janosik, Sasha Kerr, Tanesha Walker, & Alexis Robinson
Center Stage - Richmond, VA
Pictured in order left to right: Ari Aganbi, Alexis Robinson, Kyleigh DiGiovanni, Julia Kerns, Nena Daniels, Alyssa Janosik, Maggie Brookman, William Jefferson, Joe Mustachio, Mary-Dryden Maio, Jashaun Hyde, Willow Pedersen, McKenzie Page, Tanesha Walker, and Yanna Nicolaides
On February 19, 2016, fifteen students competed in the region 5 Poetry Out Loud competition. Students were from Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, Carver College and Career Academy, George Wythe High School, Godwin High School, Henrico High School, Maggie Walker Governor’s School, Millwood School, Monacan High School, St. Catherine’s School, St. Christopher’s School, Trinity Episcopal School, Varina High School, Veritas School, West Point High School, and William Monroe High School.
McKenzie Page (winner) and William Jefferson (runner-up)
Wayne Theatre, Waynesboro VA
Wayne Theatre Competitors
Pictured in order left to right: Wanyi Rebecca Zhao, Ashley McHenry, Ben Elliott, Burton Eller, and Ziwei Crystal Zang
On February 26, 2016, five students competed in the region 3 Poetry Out Loud competition at the Wayne Theatre, Waynesboro. Students were from Broadway High School, Grace Christian School, and Miller School of Albemarle. Ben Elliot (Grace Christian High School) and Ashley McHenry (Broadway High School) both advanced The Virginia Finals.