Poetry Out Loud winner announced and readies for State Finals

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 16, 2018 / comments


Placerville, CA, February 13, 2017- On Friday, February 9, six El Dorado County high school students converged on the Imagination Theater stage to compete for the title of El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Champion. In the end, only one would move on to the State Finals in March to compete for the title of California State Champion. The house was full of friends, family, and poetry enthusiasts from all over El Dorado County who were anticipating an evening filled with the power of poetry. A guest panel of judges had trained, studied the poetry selections, and diligently prepared for this evening's recitations. Each contestant would be evaluated based on several facets of their recitation including dramatic appropriateness, voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy. Sometimes a winning recitation is arrived at based on a miniscule difference in points. After each recitation was delivered and the judges took time to score and tabulate the final results, Julian Sharwarko entertained the audience with classical guitar. The contestants were asked onstage for the announcements and award presentations. Before the first, second, and third place winners were announced, El Dorado Arts Council took a moment to award the second annual Poetry Out Loud Outstanding Teacher Award to Mark Coovelis from Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills. The award is presented to an outstanding teacher each year who fosters a deeper understanding of poetry and literature.

"Over the years, the poetry unit, with Poetry Out Loud at its heart, has become a favorite for my students and for me," said Mark Coovelis, "It's great to see a student discover a poem they like enough to make it their own, to learn it deeply and thoroughly enough to recite it effectively. It's powerful." 

After Coovelis was honored, the results were agreed upon by the judging panel and the winning names were given to Master of Ceremonies Andrew Vonderschmitt, the Arts Council's program manager, who announced the winners. Third place went to Kaitlyn Stahl of Ponderosa High School, second place was awarded to Sarah Allen of El Dorado High School, and first place went to Jordan Soto of Charter University Prep, who will don the title of 2018 El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud Champion. The crowd responded with uproarious applause as the trophies were handed out and the winners lined up for photographs. 

Jordan Soto will compete against students from all participating California counties in Sacramento on March 18 and 19, 2018.

"For someone who has never won a contest in their life," Jordan Soto said, "This whole experience has been so surreal and I feel greatly honored to be a part of this competition."

Jordan's Poetry Out Loud Lead Teacher is Kate Wells at Charter University Prep. Wells won the Hero teacher award in 2016 from the California Arts Council for her efforts in bringing Poetry Out Loud to her students.

"I'm so excited to see Jordan advance" said Kate Wells, "She has gained such understanding of her poems. It's clear that she has internalized them. At the county finals, I got the chills during both of her recitations. I can't wait for State!" When asked about the program at Charter she had this to say, "All of our high school students participate in Poetry Out Loud. I think they are surprised by how much they get out of the program. There is something magical about uncovering the layers of a poem. It helps the students uncover the layers of themselves."

Round One of the State Competition will begin at 4:00 PM on Sunday, March 18, on stage at the Crest Theatre at 1013 K Street in Sacramento, and rounds Two and Three will begin at 8:30 AM on Monday, March 19, in the Assembly Chamber of the State Capitol at 10th and L Streets in Sacramento. Both competitions are open to the public. 

The competition, presented in partnership with the California Arts Council, State Local Agencies, the Poetry Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. For more information about Poetry Out Loud: www.poetryoutloud.org

1st Place, Jordan Soto, Charter University Prep.
2nd Place, Sarah Allen, El Dorado High School
3rd Place, Kaitlyn Stahl, Ponderosa High School
Jana Hudak, Union Mine, High School
Emma Rose Forbes, Oak Ridge High School
Charis Gruber, Independence High School


El Dorado Arts Council's mission to promote, connect, and empower arts and culture throughout the county is achieved by targeted programs and services, a vibrant gallery exhibition series, and a focus on initiatives which support and sustain the cultural life of the region.

If you would like more information about this , please contact Andrew Vonderschmitt at 530-295-3496 or email at andrew@eldoradoartscouncil.org.