First Lady Michelle Obama with the 2013 National Student Poets (from left: Michaela Coplen; Sojourner Ahebee, Nathan Cummings, Louis Lafair, and Aline Dolinh) in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Sept. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama with the 2013 National Student Poets (from left: Michaela Coplen; Sojourner Ahebee, Nathan Cummings, Louis Lafair, and Aline Dolinh) in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Sept. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

This post originally appeared on Scholastic’s On Our Minds blog on September 23. By Brittany Sullivan.

We’re thrilled to introduce Sojourner Ahebee, Michaela Coplen, Nathan Cummings, Aline Dolinh and Louis Lafair – the second annual class of literary ambassadors for the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s highest honor for young poets presenting original work. The program, a signature initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, promotes and celebrates young people as makers and doers who can engage audiences of all ages in the art of poetry.

They had an amazing first weekend to kick off their one year of service. Coming from all across the country, the five distinguished poets met for the first time in Washington DC.  There, they not only were able to read their work at the National Book Festival but they also met First Lady Michelle Obama!

The poets have unique writing styles and even more unique stories behind their work. I am so excited to see what they accomplish during the next year as National Student Poets! Keep an eye out for this talented group of teens – their passion for poetry is infectious! You can read all about the new class of National Student Poets here:

  • Sojourner Ahebee, 17, is a senior at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. Born in Cote d’Ivoire, when Sojourner was 7 she and her family moved to the United States where they settled down in Philadelphia, PA. Her poetry is often inspired by ideas of identity and belonging, and the exploration of social issues – linking back to her African roots.
  • Michaela Coplen, 17, is a senior at Carlisle High School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This aspiring actress dreams of a career on Broadway and has been involved in 36 local productions. As the daughter of two military officers, Michaela moved 11 times during her childhood. But, no matter where she was living, the arts were always a constant in her life.
  • Aline Dolinh, 15, is a sophomore at Oakton High School in Vienna, Virginia, near the Washington DC area, where she grew up. Aline is a first generation Vietnamese American with a vivid imagination for all things science fiction. For as long as she can remember, Aline has been writing poetry, often exploring her favorite topics such as romance, history and the possibility of time travel.
  • Louis Lafair, 18, is a senior at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, TX. Throughout his life, Louis has always expressed himself through creative writing, in school and largely on his own. His entrepreneurial spirit propelled him to become a co-licensee of the 2013 TEDxYouth event in Austin where he discovered a unique community for sharing big ideas as well as poetry with his peers.
  • Nathan Cummings, 18, is a senior at Mercer Island High School in Mercer Island, WA, outside of Seattle. An athlete by nature and self-proclaimed trivia geek, Nathan’s inspiration can come from any number of places – from his personal experiences to unknown ideas he learns about through reading.  He also takes advantage of the digital age by exploring new ideas and connecting with poets everywhere.

Congratulations National Student Poets! And, if you are an aspiring teen poet, or know someone who is, enter the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards this year to be considered for the next class of National Student Poets. Winning a national medal in poetry is the exclusive pathway to become eligible for the program. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards call for submissions is open now, click here to enter!

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