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2019 Poetry Out Loud state finals recitation contest to broadcast April 26 on MPB Television
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2019 Poetry Out Loud State Champion Taylor Mills

JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi’s best young orators showcased their talents during the 2019 Poetry Out Loud State Finals Contest held March 5 at Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s television studio. The program will air statewide on MPB Television at 8 p.m. Friday, April 26. An encore presentation is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28.

The Mississippi Arts Commission is the sponsor of the state Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. This year, 2,839 students and 132 teachers from 39 high schools in Mississippi participated.

Nine students made it to the state finals. The finalists were:

  1. Juliet Buckholdt of Ridgeland High School
  2. Victoria Byrd of Pascagoula High School
  3. Anna Claire Franklin of Oxford High School
  4. Victoria Gong of Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science
  5. Katlynn McCollum of North Pontotoc High School
  6. Angelita Micele of Vancleave High School
  7. Taylor Mills of Northwest Rankin High School
  8. Desiree Roby of Christian Home Educators Connection
  9. Belaynesh Shiferaw of Quitman High School


The 2019 winners are: Taylor Mills, state champion; Victoria Byrd, second place; and Angelita Micele, third place. Taylor will represent Mississippi at the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 30-May 1, in Washington, D.C. The contest includes a grand prize of $20,000 for the national champion.

Poetry Out Loud was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for students in grades 9-12. Since 2005, it has helped students in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and improve reading comprehension.

Through the Poetry Out Loud curriculum, teachers guide students to a better understanding of the power of language and literature by helping them develop a personal relationship with great poems. Poetry Out Loud offers all students the opportunity to compete for awards, prizes and recognition.


Mississippi Public Broadcasting provides relevant instructional and public affairs programming to Mississippians through its statewide television and radio network.  MPB enhances the work of educators, students, parents and learners of all ages by providing informative programming and educational resources.  MPB’s locally-produced programming focuses on the people, resources and attractions that reflect Mississippi’s unique culture and diverse heritage. Children’s television programs constitute a major portion of the daytime and weekend morning schedules.  MPB provides a valuable resource to Mississippians in disseminating information as part of the state’s emergency preparedness and response system.  Since 1970, MPB has won over 350 national, regional and statewide awards, including Emmy®, Edward R. Murrow and Parents’ Choice® Awards.