The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with state arts agencies of the United States to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

After successful pilot programs in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, the second phase of Poetry Out Loud was launched in high schools across America in the spring of 2006 with tens of thousands of students participating. Last year, more than 300,000 students competed. William Farley from Virginia was named national champion on April 28, 2009.

The program will continue to grow during this school year, culminating in the 2010 National Finals in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2010. For more information visit poetryoutloud.org

Medomak Valley High School’s Poetry Out Loud competition will be held Tuesday, Jan. 19 from 8:30 to 10:45 a.m. in the Dolloff Auditorium at the high school.