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Sacramento County Crowns 2017 Poetry Out Loud Winner

Pleasant Grove High School Student Wins Competition

Students holding plaques pose with dignitaries

Contest winner Chigozie Maduchukwu (right) and runner-up Neema Nejad were presented plaques by former Sacramento Poet Laureate Jeff Knorr and Board Trustees Jacquelyn Levy and Greg Geeting.

For the second year in a row, Chigozie Maduchukwu from Pleasant Grove High School (Elk Grove Unified School District) is the winner of the Sacramento County Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest. He took first place from a field of 15 during the Sacramento County finals, held February 9 at Rosemont High School in Sacramento. Maduchukwu had previously won the 2016 county competition. This year's win earns him the right to represent Sacramento County in the State Finals, scheduled for March 12–13 in Sacramento. Neema Nejad from Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep High School (Natomas Unified School District) was the Sacramento County runner-up.

Former Sacramento Poet Laureate Jeff Knorr served as master of ceremonies. Sacramento County Board of Education Trustees O. Alfred Brown, Sr., Greg Geeting, and Jacquelyn Levy, along with Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon, congratulated the competitors.

The Sacramento County Poetry Out Loud Competition encourages 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. Modeled after the National Spelling Bee, the Poetry Out Loud program began in local high school classrooms, with winners advancing to school-wide, then regional competition. Schools across the country are participating in regional competitions.

2017 Poetry Out Loud Participants

  • Marley Ross, Capital Christian High School
  • Haley Uttinger, Cornerstone Christian School
  • Stephan Alfaro, Del Campo High School
  • Ashley Lopez, Elk Grove High School
  • Olivia Brace, Heritage Peak Charter
  • Joy Phillips, Inderkum High School
  • Alexa Mark, John F. Kennedy High School
  • Edmar Joseph Tagaca, Luther Burbank High School
  • Maya Diaz-Villalta, Lutheran High School
  • Sierra DeBlonk, Natomas Charter School
  • Neema Nejad, Natomas Pacific Pathways
  • Chigozie Maduchukwu, Pleasant Grove High School
  • Ellery Schlingmann, Rio Americano High School
  • Alexis LaFont Davis, Rio Linda High School
  • Gabriella Alvarado, Sacramento County Day

Sacramento County's Poetry Out Loud program is supported by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), California Poets in the Schools, and the Poetry Foundation. This activity is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Thanks to the 2017 Poetry Out Loud Judges: Rhony Bhopla, Steve Caruso, Kristen Coyle, Loretta Murray, and Danyen Powell.

Student competitiors posing on stage

2017 Poetry Out Loud competitors.

Encore Presentation

The Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) will re-broadcast the Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest on Comcast Channel 16 and Consolidated Communications Channel 22:

  • Tuesday, February 21 at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, February 23 at 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 25 at 7 a.m.


The video is also available on YouTube.