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High School Students in Sacramento County Perform Poetry to Applause

Winner of Sixth Annual Poetry Out Loud Event is Natomas Charter School Student

Brittany Wiltz and Ahshay Kobelt

Talented and energetic students from 18 local high schools took center-stage February 3 at Rosemont High School in Sacramento County's fifth 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 Brittany Wiltz of Natomas Charter School, in the Natomas Unified School District, who will advance to the California Poetry Out Loud competition March 20-21 in Sacramento. Brittany performed the poems "Who Understands Me But Me" by Jimmy Santiago Baca and "Early Affection" by George Moses Horton. Ahshay Kobelt of Elk Grove High School, in the Elk Grove Unified School District, was selected as runner-up.

The Sacramento County Poetry Out Loud competition was presented by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) to encourage high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The program provides students with the opportunity to perform poetry in English classes, encouraging youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. Students who won contests at their high school qualified to compete at the county level.

Students competing in Sacramento County's 2011 Poetry Out Loud recitation contest included:

  • Amber Overholt (Bella Vista High School)
  • Tiffany Ellis (Center High School)
  • Taylor Green (Cordova High School)
  • Grant Akiyama (Del Campo High School)
  • Aeronna Wallace (Elinor L. Hickey Jr./Sr. High School)
  • Ahshay Kobelt (Elk Grove High School)
  • Shea Graham (Heritage Peak Charter)
  • Ashley Gonik (Inderkum High School)
  • Amelyka Hendrix (John F. Kennedy High School)
  • Terrence Scott (LINKS Academy at Marian Anderson)
  • Dalvin Clifford (Monterey Trail High School)
  • Brittany Wiltz (Natomas Charter)
  • Markus Ellis (Pleasant Grove High School)
  • Chika Eke (Rio Americano High School)
  • Janel Reed (Rio Linda High School)
  • Barrie Feusi (Sacramento Country Day)
  • Alicia Landman (Sacramento Waldorf)
  • Treshawn Johnson (Vista Nueva High School)

Sacramento County Board of Education trustees Greg Geeting and Jackie Levy assisted Master of Ceremonies Bob Stanley, Sacramento's 2009–11 Poet Laureate, in congratulating the participants and distributing awards.

California's overall winner will receive $200 and an expenses-paid trip to compete in the national competition in Washington, D.C., April 28-29, 2011. A total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded at the national finals.

Sacramento County's Poetry Out Loud judges included: performer, writer, and choreographer Angela Dee Alforque, who is a Sacramento City College professor; artist and poet Xico Gonzalez, a professor at U.C. Davis; writer and actor Arabella Grayson; writer Heather Hutcheson, member of the Sacramento Arts Commission and assistant professor at Cosumnes River College; and poet Stan Zumbiel, retired high school English teacher and board member of the Sacramento Poetry Center.

Serving as local Poets in the Schools for 2011 are JoAnn Anglin, Suzanne Brooks, Frances Dillon, Deborah Iyall, Michele Krueger, Sandy Martin, Joshua McKinney, and Terry Moore.

Sacramento County's Poetry Out Loud program is supported by the Sacramento County Office of Education, the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, the California Arts Council, California Poets in the Schools, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.

Poetry Out Loud competitors