DELMAR, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Bethlehem Central High School junior Pamela White gained national attention back in March when she won the New York State Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. She went on to represent the state in the national semifinals, which took place on May 1, and- get this- out of 55 state and jurisdictional champions competing, White was one of the last nine standing. She advanced to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, where she’ll compete for the title of National Champion and a $20,000 prize.

For this competition, each student memorizes and recites classic and contemporary poems selected from more than 1,100 in the Poetry Out Loud anthology. Judges then review and score the recitations based on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.

A total of $50,000 in awards and school or organizational stipends will be given out at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, including the $20,000 grand prize, $10,000 for second place, $5,000 for third, and $1,000 for fourth through ninth places. The representing schools of each of the top nine finalists receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials.

Back in March, White said she was shocked to win the state title. “Honestly, I was dumbfounded when I got to move on from the regional competition,” she said. “Winning the state competition and getting to compete with students from all over the country while representing New York State is just so exciting!”

Now, she’s moved on to the National Finals – and her hometown school could not be more proud. The Bethlehem Central School District (BCHS) took to Facebook Monday, saying, “congratulations to BCHS junior Pamela White, our own New York State Poetry Out Loud champ, who rocked the semifinals on May 1. We will be watching you on June 5.”

The National Finals have been scheduled for June 5 in the form of a one-time-only webcast, available on the National Endowment for the Arts website beginning at 7:00 p.m. Poet, publisher, and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander will host the virtual event, which will include poetry recitations by each of the finalists and the announcement of who we hope is a local National Champion.