Twelve students from four Mono County high schools competed last weekend in the 2nd Annual Mono County Finals in the national Poetry Out Loud competition. The winner of the competition, Ashley Garrison will represent the County in the State finals taking place in Sacramento on March 26. Six judges and an accuracy judge scored students on a prescribed scale that evaluated each student’s performance of two poems on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
Poetry Out Loud was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and is administered in partnership with the State Arts Agencies—in this case the California Arts Council. This year’s competition at the Edison Theatre was sponsored by the Eastern Sierra Community Bank and Booky Joint. It is a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. POL has grown every year with more than 365,000 students competing in 2010-2011.
“The level of performance and participation of the students this year was an improvement over last year’s and I look forward to even greater results next year,” commented Shira Dubrovner, Artistic Director of the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre. “It is truly thrilling to look into the house and see so many people attending and totally captivated by the efforts of our young people—not only parents but lovers of poetry and the arts as well. We at the Mammoth Lakes Foundation are committed to this important project that inspires love of poetry and public speaking skills to our students—the perfect blending of the two aspects of the Mammoth Lakes Foundation’s mission—to support higher education and the arts in the Eastern Sierra.”
This year competitors included students from Coleville High School, High Desert Academy, Lee Vining High School, and Mammoth Lakes High School, all coached by Eva Poole-Gilson, a published local poet and instructor at Cerro Coso College-Mammoth Campus. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional competition—the Mono County Competition at the Edison Theatre, then to the state competition on March 26 in Sacramento, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington D.C. in May.
Judges for the event were Jo Bacon; Malcolm Clark; Stacy Corless; Noelle Deinken; Bob Struckman; and Pat Struckman. Accuracy Judge was Juliana Olinka.