This month, the words of great poets came to life on stages across the state as more than 3,100 high school-aged students competed to represent their county at the 10th Annual Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals, to be held at the Siena Hotel in Reno on March 14, from noon to 3 p.m.
Poetry Out Loud began at the local level as students learned about, memorized and finally presented poetry “out loud” to an audience.
Semi-finalists advance from February’s school district competitions to the Nevada State Finals, where the stakes are higher.
The winning semi-finalists representing 13 counties include the following students:
Clark: Dylan Baker, senior, College of Southern Nevada High School West
Douglas: Dominique Groffman, Senior, Douglas High School
Elko: Destany Little Sky Pete, Freshman, Owyhee High School
Eureka: Stephen Watts, Junior, Eureka County High School
Humboldt: Tanner Ames, Sophomore, Albert M. Lowery High School
Lincoln: Elizabeth Gloeckner, Junior, Lincoln County High School
Lyon: Gabrielle Hunt, Freshman, Yerington High School
Mineral: Julie Sanchez, Junior, Mineral County High School
Nevada Statewide Virtual: Victoria Young, Sophomore, Nevada Virtual Academy
Pershing: Loree Brimage, Sophomore, Pershing County High School
Storey: Darby Beckwith, Senior, Virginia City High School
Washoe: Whitney Reyes, (no year reported), Wooster High School
White Pine: Montana Hart, Senior, White Pine High School
Nevada’s state champion earns $1,000, plus another $1,000 for his or her school to support literary programs and a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national title and a chance to share $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends.
Students placing second and third at the Nevada State Finals receive $500 each and $500 for their schools. In 2014, State Champion Christian Schunke of Lyon County represented Nevada at the national finals.
Nevada, one of the first states to offer this national initiative on a statewide basis, has seen exponential growth in participation since the first competition in 2005, when 200 students, coaches, teachers and parents were involved from 10 counties.
Now in its 10th year, more than 3,100 students, 53 teachers, 34 schools from 14 of Nevada’s 17 counties in Nevada joined in.
“Poetry Out Loud has grown into a treasured arts education program in Nevada and a flagship program for the Nevada Arts Council,” asserts Arts Learning and Poetry Out Loud Coordinator for the Nevada Arts Council Maryjane Dorofachuk.
Organizations across Nevada have hosted events and workshops to celebrate the program’s 10th Anniversary, such as the Spoken Views Youth Poetry Slam in Reno, plus “Humanity Thru Art” and “Pop Up Poetry” in Las Vegas.
Teachers have been provided with free multimedia curriculum materials–all aligned to national standards–and augmented their regular poetry curriculum with poetry recitation and a school-level competition.
A program of the Nevada Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud is co-sponsored by the Nevada Department of Education and Sierra Arts, and is made possible through funding and leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. 2015 Nevada Poetry Out Loud receives generous support from NV Energy Foundation.
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 Arts Council 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 agency’s website at nac.nevadaculture.org.
Miriam Hodgman is originally from San Francisco. She previously was the communications coordinator for the largest hunger-relief organization in Sonoma County, California. She has a bachelor’s degree in American history, with a minor in American Indian studies, from San Francisco State University, and has a master’s degree in public administration from Sonoma State University. She enjoys training a variety of martial arts.