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Sacramento County Crowns 2024 Poetry Out Loud Winner

Elk Grove High School Student Wins Competition

Alyssa Nakagawa and Ailidh Ruthven

Ailidh Ruthven (right) from Elk Grove High School, won the 2024 Sacramento County Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. Alyssa Nakagawa (left) from John F. Kennedy High School was the runner-up.

The journey to poetry recitation competition is more than just an academic exercise—it’s a transformative experience that builds self-confidence, hones public speaking skills, and explores the rich tapestry of literary history. As students across the county immerse themselves in the art of reciting poetry, they embark on a path of self-discovery and skill development that will stay with them long after the competition ends.

Ailidh Ruthven, a shining star from Elk Grove High School (Elk Grove USD), emerged victorious in the 2024 Sacramento County Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. The exhilarating Sacramento County finals, held at the David P. Meaney Education Center in Mather, CA, saw Ruthven clinch the top spot. Now, she is set to represent Sacramento County in the upcoming California Poetry Out Loud competition, slated for March 17–18 in Sacramento.

The competition was fierce, with Alyssa Nakagawa from John F. Kennedy High School (Sacramento City USD) securing the position of Sacramento County runner-up. Throughout the two-round competition, seven talented participants mesmerized the audience with their recitations of two pre-selected poems, each recitation a testament to their dedication and skill. Their performances were meticulously scored by a panel of judges, who had the challenging task of evaluating each student’s depth and range. As the evening drew to a close, emcee Xanthi Soriano, Executive Director of Communications for the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), announced the winner and runner-up, acknowledging their exceptional talent and dedication to the art of poetry recitation.

The Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) partnered with SCOE to record the competition. It will be broadcast several times on Comcast channel 15, AT&T U-Verse channel 14, and Consolidated Communications channel 21: March 23 at 4 p.m., March 24 at 9 a.m., March 30 at 4 p.m., and March 31 at 9 a.m. The video will also be available on the SECC website.

Poetry Out Loud Finalists

  • Isis Fowler, Inderkum High School (Natomas USD)
  • Ember Hall, Natomas Charter School (Natomas USD)
  • Alexis McConico, Fortune Early College High School (Charter School)
  • Alyssa Nakagawa, John F. Kennedy High School (Sacramento City USD)
  • Daphne Pannell, Rio Americano High School (San Juan USD)
  • Alexander Ramirez, Grant Union High School (Twin Rivers USD)
  • Ailidh Ruthven, Elk Grove High School (Elk Grove USD)

About Poetry Out Loud

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 structure, students start by competing in their local schools. The winners progress to regional and state competitions, with state winners competing at the national level. Poetry Out Loud was launched nationwide in 2006.

Sacramento County’s Poetry Out Loud program is supported by the Sacramento County Office of Education, California Poets in the Schools, and the Poetry Foundation. It is funded in part by the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Competitors posing

Seven finalists participated in the two-round competition.

Judges seated at tables

A panel of judges evaluated the recitations.

Seated audience members