Harlan County High School is among 18 high schools in the state selected to take part in the state Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.
The Kentucky Arts Council, which selected the schools, says the program encourages students to memorize and recite great poetry to learn more about it.
Executive Director Lori Meadows said it can help students concentrate and develop critical thinking skills in other areas of study too.
Harlan County High School Teacher Pam Hoskins, sponsor of the program at her school, said, “It is a great skill for life.”
Hoskins noted that her previous students have gone on to become teachers, ministers and other professionals that benefited directly from participating in the program.
She said she is pleased HCHS was chosen again this year, noting that the funding for the program is getting less and the competition getting tougher each year.
Twenty-two schools were selected in the state last year, dropping to 18 schools this year.
Hoskins said this is the fifth year for participation from Harlan County High school. The school finished in the top five positions last year.
The Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the state arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
The competition begins at the school level, with students memorizing specified poems and presenting it in a competition. The top two winners at the school then compete at the state level in February. The state winner and runner-up then advance to the national competition.
The schools participating are Allen County Scottsville, Boyd County, Franklin County, Western Hills in Franklin County, Grant County, Harlan County, Hart County, Leslie County, Heath, Lone Oak and Reidland in McCracken County, Belfry, East Ridge, Phelps Junior and Senior High, Pikeville, Pike County Central and Shelby Valley in Pike County and Ohio County.
Winner of the state finals receives $200 and a trip to nationals in Washington.
(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)