The Virginia Commission for the Arts is pleased to announce that Jessica Howard, a senior at Rock Ridge School in Ashburn, Virginia is the 2017 Virginia Poetry Out Loud Champion. Jessica was selected from among twelve regional competitors who advanced to the state championship. The competition was held on March 10, 2017 and hosted for the third year by the Community Idea Stations WCVE, Richmond, VA.
In 2016, more than 9,000 Virginia high school students from 58 schools participated in Poetry Out Loud with 63 school champions competing at the regional level. Poetry Out Loud is administered by the Virginia Commission for the Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.  
Photo by Don Mears Photography

In the final recitation round for the top three finalists, Jessica took top honors by reciting "I, Too" by Langston Hughes. She received a $200 cash award and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC to compete for the national championship this spring. Rock Ridge High School received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. First runner-up Allana Yoo, a sophomore at St. Catherine's, Richmond received a $100 cash award and $200 for her school library. Second runner-up Charisma Henry, a junior at W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax received a poetry anthology.

When asked how the Poetry Out Loud experience has impacted her life, Jessica reflected on the line from her second recitation "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "Art is long, and Time is Fleeting."   Jessica stated, "we learn so much from the art that is left behind, and I am thankful that these literary works were created and that I have had the opportunity to share them with others through Poetry Out Loud." Jessica plans to attend New York University this fall as a music major.
Supporters can cheer-on Jessica on April 25th and 26th at the Poetry Out Loud national championship when she competes at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, DC. To view the live webcast of the Poetry Out Loud national championship visit .

To find out more about Virginia's Poetry Out Loud program visit