California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

March 20, 2012Mary Beth Barber

Students Ready to Battle with Word and Rhyme at the 7th Annual California Poetry Out Loud

Champions from 33 counties will compete for scholarships and state title on Sunday, March 25th and Monday, March 26th, 2012

Sacramento -

High school students from across the state will come to Sacramento to speak a few words in the capitol. They come to wax poetic - literally, reciting poems from centuries ago along with modern rhymes -- for the 2012 California Poetry Out Loud state championship. A team of judges will evaluate the teens based on their accuracy, expressiveness and depth of understanding to determine who will represent the Golden State in Washington, DC, during the national Poetry Out Loud finals in May.

Round 1 of the state finals takes place at the Sacramento Sheraton on Sunday, March 25 at 4:30 p.m. Rounds 2 and the Round 3/Semi-final Round starting at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 26, and will be webcast live from the state Senate Chambers on Cal Channel ( The names, schools and counties of all 33 California county champions are listed at the end of this press release.

Dana Gioia -- credited with launching the national Poetry Out Loud competition during his tenure as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts -- will deliver the keynote address at this year's state championship. (Learn more about Dana Gioia's participation at )

This year marks the seventh time the California Arts Council has produced the annual competition -- the largest of its kind in the nation, with over 40,000 students in approximately 33 California counties participating. The program encourages high school students to learn about poetry through the memorization, performance, and recitation of poetry. The Arts Council expects that the 2012 finals will be standing-room only, based on the excitement generated statewide.

The California state finals are the culminating competition between county winners who have shown their merit in the classroom, school, district, and county (a pyramid competition structure similar to the spelling bee). The national Poetry Out Loud program began seven years ago, and each state sends a winner to the national finals. The California Poetry Out Loud champion will win $200 from the NEA and go on to compete in Washington, DC in April, with the winner's school receiving $500 for poetry books. The California runner-up receives $100 from the NEA, with his or her school receiving $200 for books.

The state's Poetry Out Loud program is directed by the California Arts Council, and was initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. Local arts agencies and school districts conduct the program on the county level. The national initiative is part of an attempt to bring literary arts to students -- a critical need in U.S. schools, according to the 2004 NEA report Reading at Risk which found a dramatic decline in literary reading, especially among younger readers. The Poetry Out Loud program seeks to foster the next generation of readers and strengthen students' confidence in their public-speaking abilities by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry: recitation and performance.

The California Arts Council would like to thank the Target Corporation for sponsoring the state's program and helping bring California Poetry Out Loud to as many California high school students as possible. The agency is also indebted to the hardworking staff at the California Channel who record, broadcast and webcast the event. (See about the Telly Award the Cal Channel received:

Members of the press interested in California's Poetry Out Loud program and want to attend the State Finals should contact Mary Beth Barber at 916-322-6588, Members of the public should know that space will be limited, so parties interested in bringing more than one or two people to view the competition should contact Poetry Out Loud coordinator Kristin Margolis at More general information, including a list of poems the students may choose to recite, can be found at . A summary of the NEA's Reading at Risk report can be found at .

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California Poetry Out Loud 2012
County Champions (in alphabetical order by County)

Alameda County
Michelle Yang, Oakland Military Institute

Contra Costa County
Denica Garcia, Salesian High School

El Dorado County
Corbin Gomez, Oak Ridge High School

Fresno County
Mohammad R. Shehata, Clovis West High School

Humboldt County
Terra Trujillo Ashbrook, North Coast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy

Inyo County
Elizabeth Richards, Big Pine High School

Lake County
Sylvia Manners, Lower Lake High School

Los Angeles County
Calvin Lam, San Gabriel High School

Madera County
Michelle Linn, Glacier High School

Marin County
Douglas Pardella, Redwood High

Mendocino County
Elijah Ravitz-Campbell, Mendocino Community High School

Modoc County
Tahlia Guzman, Surprise Valley High School

Mono County
Ashley Garrison, Mammoth High School

Monterey County
Arwa Awan, Pacific Grove High School

Napa County
Emily Mourraille, New Technology High School

Nevada County
Jeremy Van Hecke, Ghidotti Early College High School

Orange County
Ellen Webre, Orange County High School of the Arts

Placer County
Helen Bansen, Truckee High School

Riverside County
N'kem Ehiemere, Nuview Bridge Early College High School

Sacramento County
Brittany Wiltz, Natomas Charter School

San Diego County
Oscar Sanchez Cid del Prado, Valley Center High School

San Francisco County
Abigail Schott-Rosenfield, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts

San Luis Obispo County
Blythe Berg, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School

Santa Barbara County
Madeleine Centrella, Dos Pueblos High School

Siskiyou County
Nicholas Cordell, Yreka High School

Solano County
Austin Carr, Benicia High School

Sonoma County
Brynna Thigpen, Maria Carrillo High School

Stanislaus County
Kathryn Harlan-Gran, James Enochs High School

Sutter County
Molly Grover, C.O.R.E. Camptonville Academy

Tuolumne County
Jonathon Bermea, Sonora High School

Ventura County
Jeremy Brooks, El Camino High School

Yolo County
Ella Rose Eldon, Esparto High School

Yuba County
Ocil Herrejón, Lindhurst High School

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Vice Chair William Turner, Wylie Aitken, Michael Alexander, Andrew Green, Adam Hubbard, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, Susan Steinhauser, and Rosalind Wyman.

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