Sharing a love of poetry just got a little easier for English teacher Amanda Aldridge, who works in the agricultural community of Yerington, 80 miles outside of Reno. Thanks to money awarded through the Nevada Poetry Out Loud Program, a national poetry recitation competition for high school students, Aldridge received $500 for resources to help students experience the magic of poetry.
“We have 342 students,” Aldridge said. “For a small school, $500 is a huge amount of money.”
The award came thanks to former student Ralston Thorlief Pedersen, who placed third in the 2013 Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals. Ralston’s win garnered him $500 as well as $500 for his school.
Registration to participate in this year’s Nevada Poetry Out Loud runs through Dec. 1. The program is focuses on memorization and performance of classic and contemporary works. Registration is open to all Nevada public, private, charter, parochial and alternative school and home school associations.
Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with Sierra Arts, Nevada Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and 2014’s major sponsor, NV Energy.
Poetry Out Loud begins at the local level as students learn about, memorize and finally present out loud poetry from the website www.poetryoutloud.org. Participants advance from school to district competitions and then to the Nevada State Finals in March, where the stakes are high. The Poetry Out Loud state champion receives $1,000, and his or her school also receives $1,000. The state champion also travels to Washington, D.C., to compete for $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals. Those who place second and third at the Nevada State Finals each receive $500, and their schools each receive $500.
Starting at the classroom level, teachers are provided with free multimedia curriculum materials — a Learning Recitation audio guide, a teachers’ guide, posters and comprehensive website, www.poetryoutloud.org — to augment their regular poetry curriculum with poetry recitation and a school-level competition. The student winner and a chaperone from each participating school district receive support to attend the state finals March 15 in Reno.
In 2013, more than 2,600 students, teachers and coaches participated in Nevada’s Poetry Out Loud, representing 13 of Nevada’s 16 counties with high schools. Last year’s state champion, Graciela Maya-Joseph, of Owyhee High School in Elko County, represented Nevada at the national finals.
Teachers are invited to find out more about 2014 Nevada Poetry Out Loud and to register to participate by Dec. 1 at the Nevada Arts Councik’s website, nac.nevadaculture.org, or contact Maryjane Dorofachuk at 702-486-3738 or [email protected]
The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, is the agency charged with ensuring that state and national funds support cultural activity and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada. In addition to providing hundreds of grants to arts- and community-based organizations, schools, artists and local municipalities throughout the state the NAC coordinates a variety of statewide programs and activities such as the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation competition for high school-aged students, traveling exhibits, artist residencies, workshops and cultural assessments. For more information, visit the NAC website, nac.nevadaculture.org.
Chris Moran has lived in Reno since 1996, and currently works at the Nevada Division of Tourism as a public relations specialist. She is a former editor and writer at the Reno Gazette-Journal, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Her hobbies include skiing, hiking, reading, photography, coffee and coffeehouses, and exploring Nevada. Check out her blog at www.ChrisinNevada.wordpress.com.