500 students at the 38th annual Festival of Oral Interpretation hosted by Pioneer Union School District

by Placerville Newswire / Apr 05, 2016 / comments

El Dorado County Students Celebrate the Spoken Word [Image: Rebecca Roberts, sixth-grade Mountain Creek student, performs a piece of poetry she composed and practiced in preparation for the Festival of Oral Interpretation]

Approximately 500 fourth through eighth-grade students represented their schools at the 38th annual Festival of Oral Interpretation hosted by Pioneer Union School District (PUSD). The event took place in a picture-perfect setting on a beautiful Wednesday in March. Small groups of children hurried to classrooms across campus to deliver interpretive performances of poetry and prose. After every performance, a volunteer evaluator, members of the audience and student peers gave the orators complimentary and suggestive advice. 

The event is not a competition but a safe place to help enhance public speaking and presentation skills. El Dorado County schools employ individual methods to select students. For example, Latrobe School District’s award-winning Speech Contest Program takes advantage of the entire school year to strengthen students’ public speaking skills. The district also includes a round robin competition in February, complete with the opportunity to move onto the Festival of Oral Interpretation. 

Dana Rubin, a seventh-grade student at Gold Trail School, wrote and prepared an original piece for the festival. “I like to practice speaking out loud and in front of an audience,” she said. The audience gave her several positive remarks regarding her expert eye contact and overall rhythm. Volunteers also gathered written evaluation forms for each student. 

The event is very inclusive, and the entire community is always encouraged to participate. Matt Smith, Superintendent of Camino Union School District, served as a volunteer evaluator and noted, “There was great family support for the children. A younger sibling who was there to support his sister got so inspired he asked for a chance to present his own piece. So in the spirit of the festival, we said, ‘Sure’!”

Rebecca Roberts, a sixth-grade Mountain Creek student who also prepared a piece of poetry, practiced for an entire month before the festival. When she spoke, her facial expressions and body movements brought the piece to life. “I enjoy doing this every single year,” she expressed. “Poetry is interesting to me because it really gives meaning to what you’re saying.” 

The event has become an annual gathering of excited individuals, and attendees look forward to next year. “We enjoy welcoming everyone who comes to this showcase of talent,” PUSD Superintendent Lisa Fontana said. “I’m glad Pioneer is home to this festival each year, and we look forward to seeing everyone next year. I would like to thank the evaluators, volunteers and staff who worked tirelessly to produce this event.” 

For more information regarding Pioneer Union School District, visit www.pioneer.k12.ca.us