Searsport District High School sophomore Ari Jihan, who won the right to represent his school at the Poetry Out Loud Northern Maine Regional Final last month, will advance to the state competition.

The regional contest was held at the University of Maine’s Minsky Recital Hall in Orono, and the statewide competition is set for Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Waterville Opera House.

Those who advance to the national finals will travel to Washington D.C. in April to compete for the national title.

Poetry Out Loud is the result of a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and state arts agencies including the Maine Arts Commission to encourage youths to learn about poetry through memorization and performance, according to the MAC website.

The contests begin in participating Maine schools, where school champions are selected to advance to two regional finals. At the regionals, 10 students are chosen to compete in the state final. From there, one youth performer will move on to the national event in Washington D.C., in April, where part of the grand prize is $50,000 in awards and school stipends to be used toward the purchase of poetry books.