Five student poets gave inspirational readings of their work at the White House on Thursday, which struck an emotional chord with First Lady Michelle Obama, The Huffington Post reports.

“If we ever wonder whether what we do makes a difference, it does. Thank you, everyone, for all of this, thank you guys, I’m so proud of you,” Mrs. Obama said, fighting back tears.

The National Student Poets Program recognizes five poets in grades 10 and 11. This year’s class presented poems they wrote to an audience that included the First Lady. Their works covered a range of topics.

Stella Binion, a Chicago native, submitted her acclaimed poem Environmental Racism alongside two other works to earn the national award, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The 17-year-old senior at Walter Payton College Prep told The Tribune that she’s now focusing more on written poetry and less on the spoken word art form with political themes. She won the Midwest region competition to earn the opportunity to present her work to the First Lady.

This is the fifth year of the program, which recognizes young poets from five different regions. Mrs. Obama noted at the event that the program has received more than 70,000 submissions since 2011.

“Just so you know, the competition is fierce, it’s not like you just happened up here, a lot of people have applied over the years,” she stated.

The First Lady praised the young poets for choosing to open up and eloquently sharing their feelings about the world. She said that’s difficult for most teenagers.

SOURCE: Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter | VIDEO: Facebook

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