First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a poetry reading in honor of the 2015 National Student Poets (from left: Anna Lance, David Xiang, De’John Hardges, Chasity Hale, and Eileen Huang) in the Blue Room of the White House, October 8, 2015. (Photo by Patrick G. Ryan for the National Student Poets Program.)

We are delighted to introduce Chasity Hale, De’John Hardges, Eileen Huang, Anna Lance, and David Xiang as the Class of 2015 National Student Poets! These students will join the ranks of esteemed and accomplished literary ambassadors for the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s highest honor for young poets presenting original work. 

Since 2012, the National Student Poets Program has been 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. The program strives to inspire other young people to achieve excellence in their own creative endeavors and promote the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.

Each Student Poet in the Class of 2015 represents a different geographic region of the country. Their works are filled with unique and authentic voices exploring issues that affect today’s teens. We are proud to add these five youth poets to the growing list of remarkable students who have served as literary ambassadors.

Chasity Hale HeadshotChasity Hale, Age 16
Miami Beach, FL
Southeast Region

Chasity is a junior and creative writing major at Miami Arts Charter School. She was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, but currently lives in Miami Beach, Florida, with her mother. A Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Medalist, Chasity has also received two Gold Keys and six Silver Keys. She won first place in the Sarah Mook poetry contest and has been published by Creative Communications, Susquehanna University, and the Young American Poetry Digest. In her free time she likes to practice dance and visual arts.

DeJohn Hardges Headshot NEWDe’John Hardges, Age 16
Cleveland, OH
Midwest Region

De’John is a junior at Cleveland School of The Arts, majoring in Literary Arts with an emphasis on poetry. Since De’John took his first poetry class in the fifth grade, he has gained more conviction that his is the path of a poet and performance artist. He has been nurtured by an important group of literary and performance artists, including his poetry teacher and mentor, Daniel Gray-Kontar, his short fiction instructor, Robert Allen Washington, and performance instructors, Kisha Nicole Foster and Raymond McNiece. When he isn’t studying for classes or performing, he works as a community organizer for the New Abolitionists Association.

Eileen Huang HeadshotEileen Huang, Age 15
Holmdel, NJ
Northeast Region

Eileen is a sophomore at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey. While studying abroad in Beijing for a year, Eileen became interested in the ancient Chinese poems of Li Bai and Du Fu. She loves to write narrative poems describing normal, conventional experiences using descriptive language. In addition to poetry, she is interested in both journalism and art. As a student in a STEM high school, she can often be found reading authors that range from Vonnegut to Plath or studying the phases of mitosis. Although she is still fairly new to poetry, Eileen believes that it is a powerful and liberating form of creative expression, and she strives to write a new poem every day.

Anna Lance HeadshotAnna Lance, Age 17
Eagle River, AK
West Region

Anna is a senior attending West High School in Anchorage, Alaska. She has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember; her parents love to tell the story of her ‘first poem,’ which she wrote in scribbled hieroglyphs on construction paper at age three and then translated aloud for her mom. Today, her interests are heavily arts-focused and include literature, film, musical theatre, photography, camping, and figuring out what color she’s going to dye her hair next. Her work is largely personal in nature. Self-discovery and the energy of life are frequently its key players, as are change and confusion and—most importantly—hope. She does want to complete a script or screenplay someday, but at the moment her main goal is to survive her senior year approximately undamaged.

David Xiang HeadshotDavid Xiang, Age 17
Little Rock, AR
Southwest Region

David is a senior at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. At school, he takes an AP-heavy schedule, starts for the varsity soccer team, and is the Senior Editor and Spoken Word Leader of the Memory Project, a club devoted to oral histories about tensions and prejudices. David first began writing and exploring poetry in his freshman year, but it soon changed from a hobby to a passion; he believes a poem is never completely finished. At home, when David is not jotting down phrases and lines in his hoarded notebooks, he plays piano, which to him is just writing in his second favorite language.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015 National Student Poets! If you are a teen poet, or know someone who is, enter the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards to be considered for the next class of National Student Poets. Student Poets are selected from students who receive National Medals in the Scholastic Awards. Submissions are open, so create your account now!

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