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National Student Poet and resolute teen

National Student Poet is an appointment given annually to only five teens across the US; Lylla Younes of Alexandria, La. was chosen from 8,000 applicants by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. 

By Jodi BelgardThe Town Talk/AP / November 6, 2012

Lylla Younes is one of five National Student Poets from across the nation selected from a pool of 8,000 teen applicants.



Alexandria, La.

One of the earliest forms of creative writing a child learns is poetry. Rhyming words; roses are red, violets are blue, and all that.

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Lylla Younes, of Alexandria, La.,grew up in a house filled with poetry. There were no poets at home, but her dad, Maan Younes, is an avid reader of poetry. Each Friday night and some Saturdays, he gathered Lylla, her brother Abraham, and his wife Sue to read poetry. 

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The words flowed forth and stuck with Lylla and Abraham, both of whom are now award-winning creative writers.

Lylla, 17, is now a National Student Poet appointed by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. She and four other teens from across the nation were chosen from 8,000 applicants.

"I'm proud, but I'm humbled," said Lylla's mother, Mrs. Younes.

She talked in depth about Lylla's talent, and attributes it mainly to her family's love of the written word.

"I don't know where she gets it from," Mrs. Younes said. "My sister is a songwriter/singer. My late sister was a writer. But, we are big readers."

Mrs. Younes calls Lylla the "late bloomer" when it comes to writing, as it was Abraham who first received accolades. Two years ago, however, Lylla entered the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program, which selects and brings to the forefront the winning National Student Poets. She won "silver" for a personal essay about her grandmother's battle with Alzheimer's. The award afforded her a trip to Carnegie Hall. This time, though, it was her poetry that got her the top prize.

"I've been applying to Scholastic since freshman year," Lylla said in a phone interview from her high school in New Mexico.

She knows a thing or two about persistence, or "stubbornness," as her mother said. She attends United World College, an advanced high school for students from 80 countries. She'd applied for admissions once before but didn't get in.

"She was fortunate to be stubborn enough, which she is, by the way, to apply again," Mrs. Younes said. "Everything (at the school) is more in-depth. She has two years of intense, advanced math, two years of intense chemistry and so on."

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