POL Finals video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6WyykBR0fo
POL Finals video (created by Commissioner District 2: Beverly Kumar): https://youtu.be/q3LxGsrSvJQ
From a competitive field of students representing their fourteen schools, Grace Gilroy from San Ramon Valley High in Danville won the title of 2020 Poetry Out Loud™ Contra Costa County Champion at the finals held in the Village Theatre in Danville on February 8th. The first runner-up was Lily Johnstone from Pinole Valley High in Pinole and third place went to junior Kyla Watkins from Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek.
The county high schools represented this year include: College Park High in Pleasant Hill, Deer Valley High in Antioch, El Cerrito High in El Cerrito, Independence High in Brentwood, John Henry High in Richmond, John Swett High in Crockett, Kennedy High in Richmond, Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek, Monte Vista High in Danville, Mt. McKinley High in Martinez, Pinole Valley High in Pinole, Prospects High in Antioch, Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond, and San Ramon Valley High in Danville. Countywide, over 3,000 students memorized a poem for the program this year. Schools hold competitions to determine which ONE student will represent them in the County finals.
Among the many fine recitations, Ms. Gilroy’s “Courtesy” by David Ferry, Ms. Johnstone’s “The Mortician in San Francisco” by Randall Mann and Ms. Watkins’ “Kin” by Maya Angelou helped secure the final outcome.
Grace Gilroy received an award of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Sacramento, to compete at the Poetry Out Loud state finals on March 15th and 16th. Runner-up Lily Johnstone received at $100 prize, and Kyla Watkins was awarded $50 for her third place win.
District 2 County Supervisor Candace Andersen opened the competition by welcoming attendees. Guest judges presided over the competition, including Arts Commissioner Elizabeth Wood, poets Allie Marini and Amy Glynn, and past Poetry Out Loud winners Abel Pineda and Cheryl Evans. The judges evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy, and evidence of understanding.
A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, the California Arts Council and locally, the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County, Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the county, then the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. Since the program began in 2005, more than 3.8 million students and 60,000 teachers from 16,000 schools across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud.