Performing, chanting and rhyming, students from 20 local high schools took center-stage February 26 at Inderkum High School in Sacramento County's third annual Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. Before a live audience and a panel of judges, each student presented two memorized poems. Students were judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
The winner was Daniel Horne of Elk Grove High School, who will advance to the California Poetry Out Loud competition in Sacramento on March 14. Christy Cunningham of Rio Americano High School was selected as runner-up.
Coordinated locally by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), the event is modeled after the national spelling bee. Poetry Out Loud 2008 was introduced in high school classrooms throughout the county last fall, with students competing at the classroom and school level. School winners represented their campuses in the county-wide competition on February 26.
Winners from each state advance to the national finals in April in Washington, D.C., where $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes will be awarded.
In addition to SCOE, sponsors of the county's Poetry Out Loud competition included the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, the California Arts Council, the
National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.
Sacramento County's Poetry Out Loud judges included: Julia Connor (Sacramento Poet Laureate), Gail Dartz (adjunct professor of theater, Cosumnes River College), Traci Gourdine (professor of English, American River College), Dr. Andy Jones (professor of English and Writing Program at U.C. Davis, and host of KDVS radio's "Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour" show), and Bob Stanley (teacher at Sacramento City College and president of Sacramento Poetry Center).
Poetry Out Loud is part of an attempt to bring literary arts to students—a critical need in our schools, according to the NEA report Reading At Risk that found a dramatic decline in literary reading. Through the rhythm of poetry, students learn the language arts elements of classic literature and the skills of literary analysis. By performing great works of literature, students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn more about their cultural heritage.
Schools represented in Sacramento County's 2008 Poetry Out Loud competition included:
- Bella Vista High School: John Paul Laing
- Bradshaw Christian High School: Josh Blagalia
- Carson Creek High School: Joshua A.
- Center High School: David Jolly
- C.K. McClatchy High School: Lindsey Dillon
- Del Campo High School: Daniel Harris
- Elinor Lincoln Hickey High School: Vanessa Marin
- Elk Grove High School: Daniel Home
- Galt High School: Kayla Cole
- Grant High School: Robert Issacs
- Heritage Peak Charter School: Sarah Law
- Inderkum High School: Dwight Sanders
- Luther Burbank High School: Karoline Vivi
- Mesa Verde High School: Erica Leshchik
- Monterey Trail High School: Omega Ramos
- Natomas Charter School: Jillian Wilson
- Pleasant Grove High School: Kiara Pugh
- Rio Americano High School: Christy Cunningham
- Rio Linda High School: Keyonna Murry
- Sacramento Country Day School: Lana Preszler
More than 250,000 students nationally will take part in Poetry Out Loud this year.