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Countywide High School Poetry Competition Gets Underway

Local Students Can Compete for Thousands of Dollars in Scholarships

Julia Connor

Sacramento County Poet Laureate Julia Connor spoke to teachers.

The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) is pleased to partner with the California Arts Council in promoting and supporting a national poetry contest entitled Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in the Sacramento region. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), along with the Poetry Foundation, is expanding a pilot program that encourages high school students to learn poetry through practice, performance, and competition.

The Poetry Out Loud program begins in local high school classrooms, with winners advancing to school-wide, then regional competition. Capital regions countrywide are invited to participate and move forward to the April competition. Winners from each state advance to the national finals, May 16, 2006 in Washington, DC, where $50,000 dollars in scholarships and school prizes will be awarded.

The NEA, the Poetry Foundation and SCOE view this contest with great growth potential.

"By learning great poetry, a student can expand mind and imagination," said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon. "Students who learn to present themselves well in public learn an important life skill."

On January 19, 2006, SCOE and the California Arts Council hosted an informational meeting with Sacramento-area high school teachers and introduced teachers to Sacramento County Poet Laureate Julia Connor.

"Poetry has a way of enhancing just about any form of learning you can list," Connor said. "It expands the imagination for students which transfers to all of their pursuits."

This Poetry Out Loud program is part of an attempt to bring literary arts to students - a critical need in schools, according to a 2004 NEA report Reading At Risk that found a dramatic decline in literary reading. Through the rhythm of poetry, students can learn the language arts elements of classic literature and the skills of literary analysis. The program seeks to develop student's lifelong appreciation for literature and the arts through this process.

To learn more about this program, visit the Poetry Out Loud website.

Audience listening to speaker

Local language arts teachers hear details of the Poetry Out Loud competition.