California Arts Council

State of California

Students Ready to Battle with Word and Rhyme at the 6th Annual California Poetry Out Loud Finals
Champions from 34 counties will compete for scholarships and state title on Sunday, March 20 and in the Senate Chambers on Monday, March 21, 2011

Published: 03-11-2011

The students will battle with words, gestures and speaking quality standards in the sixth annual California Poetry Out Loud finals on Sunday and Monday, March 20 and 21, 2011. The names, schools and counties represented at the state finals are listed below. Dozens of articles have already been written about the students in their county competitions.

"We have so many counties sending Poetry Out Loud winners this year to the state finals that we have to split the event into two days," said Marilyn Nielsen, Interim Director of the California Arts Council. "This demonstrates the popularity of the program statewide, with California having the largest number of high school students participating in the nation, learning about poetry and improving their language skills and creative-thinking processes."

The event has been split into two sections: Round 1 will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, March 20 at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento at 3:00 pm, while Round 2 and Round 3 will take place at the East End Auditorium at 1500 Capitol Avenue at 8:30 a.m. The California Arts Council expects to announce the winner at approximately noon on Monday. The California Channel will video-record Rounds Two and Three for future viewing.

This is the sixth 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 34 California counties participating. The program encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The Arts Council expects the 2011 finals will be standing-room only, based on the excitement generated statewide.

The event is the state's 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 six 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 an expense-paid trip to compete in Washington, DC in April, with the winner's schools 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 at 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 a 2004 NEA report Reading at Risk that 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 allow the program to be broadcast and webcast.

Members of the public should know that space will be limited in the Senate chambers, so parties interested in bringing more than one or two people to view the competition live 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 Reading at Risk report can be found at

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California Poetry Out Loud 2011
County Champions (in alphabetical order by County)

Alameda County
Sam Warrick, The College Preparatory School

Contra Costa County
Mark Reifenheiser, Mt. Diablo High School

El Dorado County
Rebecca Shields, Oak Ridge High School

Fresno County
Chukwunonso "Nonny" Okwelogu, Clovis West

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

Inyo County
Tyler Holt, Big Pine High School

King County
Cabrilla McGinn, Hanford West High School

Lake County
Rebecca Sires, Lower Lake High School

Los Angeles County
Sophia Breanna Brady, Herbert Hoover High School

Madera County
Erica Grant, Yosemite High School

Marin County
Douglas Pardella, Redwood High

Mendocino County
Camila Biaggi, Pacific Community Charter School

Modoc County
Jennifer Mueller, Surprise Valley High School

Mono County
Erica Robinson, Mammoth High School, Lakes

Monterey County
Robert Marchand, Pacific Grove High School

Napa County
Stella Palado, American Canyon High School

Nevada County
Nicole Bush, Nevada Union High School

Orange County
Feby Boediarto, Oxford Academy

Placer County
Charet Bolton, Roseville High School

Riverside County
Nkem Ehiemere, Nuview Bridge Early College High School

Sacramento County
Brittany Wiltz, Natomas Charter School

San Bernardino County
James Smith, Yucaipa High School

San Diego County
Lauren Owensby, Valley Center High School

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

San Luis Obispo County
Kaden Howard, Lopez Continuation High School

Santa Barbara County
Courtney Cambron, Dos Pueblos High School

Siskiyou County
Keven Cassells, Mount Shasta High School

Solano County
Lindsay Blackie, Benicia High School

Sonoma County
Phebe Hong, Santa Rosa High School

Stanislaus County
Rebecca Kim Mears, Modesto High School

Sutter County
Molly Grover, CORE Camptonville

Tuolumne County
Jonathon Bermea, Sonora Union High School

Ventura County
Frank de la Torre, Providence High School

Yuba County
Ocil Herrejon, Lindhurst High School

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