MONTPELIER -- The Vermont Arts Council wants to beat last year's The Poetry Out Loud record by enrolling more than 5,000 students from 45 high schools in Vermont. This national recitation competition attracts tens of thousands of high school students from all over the U.S. to compete in school, regional, and state events, all leading to the national competition held in Washington D.C. Twenty-seven high schools from 10 counties have enrolled for 2015.

"Poetry Out Loud is a life-changing experience for the young people who participate. The goal of the Arts Council is to ensure that Poetry Out Loud is available to every eligible student in the state. We encourage all Vermont high schools to join in," said Ben Doyle, Arts Council Education Programs manager.

Vermont's champion will receive a cash prize of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship. The champion's school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Students from 53 high schools -- champions from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- will compete for a total of $50,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends at the National Finals.

The Poetry Out Loud program was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and is administered statewide by the Vermont Arts Council. Now in its ninth year in Vermont, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and know by heart classic and contemporary poetry. Poetry Out Loud builds on the rising interest in poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the popularity of rap music.

Area registered schools include Danville School, St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute.

Since 1964, the Vermont Arts Council has been the state's primary provider of funding, advocacy and information for the arts in Vermont. It strives to increase public awareness of the positive role artists and arts organizations play in communities and to increase opportunities for Vermonters to experience the arts in everyday life. The Council is the only designated State Arts Agency in the U.S. that is also an independent, not-for-profit, membership organization. For more information on the programs and services of the Vermont Arts Council, visit www.vermontartscouncil.org.

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