The aim of Poetry Out Loud is to encourage the study and appreciation of great poetry. Students engaged in the program not only learn about their literary heritage but also build self-confidence through mastering public speaking skills. Now in its twelfth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has inspired millions of high school students to discover the beauty and brilliance of the literary canon.
More than 310,000 students from 2,300 high schools took part in the 2016–2017 Poetry Out Loud program.
2019 El Dorado County Finals
Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at 7 pm
Imagination Theater! 100 Placerville Drive
On Wednesday, February 6, 2019, five High School Poetry Out Loud Champions took to the stage at Imagination Theater to compete for the title of El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Champion. The evening was filled with memorable recitations of poems from classic and contemporary poets. From William Shakespeare to Maya Angelou, T.S. Elliot to May Sarton, the evening was filled with the magic of the spoken word. Before a room brimming with friends, family, and literary aficionados the contestants stepped up one at a time to recite a poem that they chose, connected with, memorized, and rehearsed.
Before the recitations began El Dorado County Poet Laureate Emerita Taylor Graham read her original work about Poetry Out Loud, entitled “Getting the Poem to Heart,” for an appreciative audience. Once the competition began, each High School Champion recited their two chosen poems in two rounds. The first round began with Alena Parat from Union Mine High School who set a playful tone for the evening with “Little Girl,” by Tami Haaland; Oak Ridge High School’s Paula Rabell honored the audience with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29; Charter University Prep’s Ava Adams praised the written word with “Songs for the People,” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper; Independence High School’s Haley Lowe brought “After the War,” by Rachel Galvin, to life, and finally Amy Blair from El Dorado High School graced the stage with “Caged Bird,” by Maya Angelou.
A luminary panel of judges was assembled to evaluate and tabulate each recitation diligently, fairly, and without bias. The panel included Mark Acuna, Mayor, City of Placerville; Charlie Basham, Director, Gold Bug Park Development; Jody Franklin, Executive Director of Tourism, El Dorado County Visitor’s Authority; Taylor Graham, El Dorado County Poet Laureate Emerita; Dr. Audrey Keebler, Retired School Administrator; Dr. Ed Manansala, County Superintendent of Schools; Suzanne Roberts, Travel Writer and El Dorado County Poet Laureate; Ann Wofford, Executive Director, Ag in the Classroom; and Peter Wolfe, Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Imagination Theater. Each of the judges took the assignment seriously, not only volunteering their time at the competition but also several hours prior to the event, training with the evaluation criteria created specifically for Poetry Out Loud.
After each recitation, while the judges did all the work of evaluating each recitation, guitarist Julian Sharwarko performed beautiful music that intrigued and entertained the crowd. Once the final tabulation was done after the second round, Master of Ceremonies Andrew Vonderschmitt was joined on the stage by LeMoncheck, to present the first, second and third place awards to the winning competitors.
Confirming the tabulators and judges had indeed fixed upon three top scores the awards were presented to 3rd place competitor, Ava Adams from Charter University Prep, while 2nd place went to Amy Blair from El Dorado High School and 1st place was bestowed upon Paula Rabell from Oak Ridge High School.
Rabell will be preparing with contracted coaches, her Poetry Out Loud Lead teacher, Mark Coovelis, and Arts Council Staff to represent El Dorado County at the California State Finals.
California boasts the largest Poetry Out Loud competition in the country. Since 2005 participation has grown steadily with 54 of 58 counties in the state competing. The state finals will be held on Sunday, March 10th with the Semifinal Rounds at 10:00 a.m. – First Heat and 2:00 p.m. – Second Heat at the California State Library -Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814 and the Final Round on Monday, March 11th starting at 8:30 a.m. at the State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814.
2018 El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Finals
Friday, February 9, 2018, at 7 pm
Imagination Theater! 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville CA
On Friday, February 9, 2018, six El Dorado County high school students converged on the Imagination Theater stage to compete for the title of El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Champion. In the end, only one would move on to the State Finals in March to compete for the title of California State Champion. The house was full of friends, family, and poetry enthusiasts from all over El Dorado County who were anticipating an evening filled with the power of poetry. A guest panel of judges had trained, studied the poetry selections, and diligently prepared for this evening’s recitations. Each contestant would be evaluated based on several facets of their recitation including dramatic appropriateness, voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy. Sometimes a winning recitation is arrived at based on a miniscule difference in points. After each recitation was delivered and the judges took time to score and tabulate the final results, Julian Sharwarko entertained the audience with classical guitar.
The results were scored, tabulated and agreed upon by the judging panel and the winning names were given to Master of Ceremonies Andrew Vonderschmitt, the Arts Council’s program manager, who announced the winners. Third place went to Kaitlyn Stahl of Ponderosa High School, second place was awarded to Sarah Allen of El Dorado High School, and first place went to Jordan Soto of Charter University Prep, who will don the title of 2018 El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Champion. The crowd responded with uproarious applause as the trophies were handed out and the winners lined up for photographs.
Jordan Soto will compete against students from all participating California counties in Sacramento on March 18 and 19, 2018.
Round One of the State Competition will begin at 4:00 PM on Sunday, March 18, on stage at the Crest Theatre at 1013 K Street in Sacramento, and rounds Two and Three will begin at 8:30 AM on Monday, March 19, in the Assembly Chamber of the State Capitol at 10th and L Streets in Sacramento. Both competitions are open to the public.
The Arts Council assembled and trained a panel of luminary judges for the 2018 County Finals. These notable individuals were chosen for their unique qualifications, passion for the written word, and a drive to support this important program: Jeanne Amos, Library Director, El Dorado County Library; Lester Brown, Vice President, El Dorado Arts Council; Mimi Escabar, Lifestyle Editor, Mountain Democrat; Tina Ferguson, Owner, Face in a Book; Joshua Fernandez, English Professor, Folsom Lake College; Taylor Graham, El Dorado County Poet Laureate; Terry LeMoncheck, Executive Director, El Dorado Arts Council; Jayne Moore, Senior Vice President, El Dorado Savings Bank; Beverly Schwarzberg, Senior Vice President, El Dorado Savings Bank; Wendy Thomas, Placerville City Mayor
2017 El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud
L-R: Olivia Robertson, Golden Sierra High School; Kaitlyn Stahl, Ponderosa High School; Anna Salvestrin, Union Mine High School; Kassidy Brown, El Dorado High School; Alessandra Jester, Charter University Prep; Zoey Eddy, Oak Ridge High School; Jesus Jimenez, Independence High School
Photography by Karen Schmauz
Jack Carman from Independence High School was honored during the County Finals as the first recipient of the Poetry Out Loud Outstanding Teacher Award. He was chosen by the Arts Council for inspiring creativity and fostering a deeper understanding of literature and poetry.
Photography by Karen Schmauz