On March 15th and 16th, Kayla Salazar, the San Benito County Poetry Out Loud Champion (POL) competed in the first virtual statewide Poetry Out Competition, coordinated by the California Arts Council, the state arts agency. Kayla is a freshman at San Benito High School and also recently won the Hollister Rotary Club’s annual Richard D. King Youth Speech Contest held on February 3rd.
After winning the countywide POL competition in January, hosted by the San Benito County Arts Council, Kayla was set to travel to Sacramento last week for the in-person competition when news broke of COVID19. In response to the state’s current public health emergency, the finals were modified to be a virtual competition. The California Arts Council asked students to submit 3 videos of themselves reciting the poems that they had prepared for the state competition. Judges reviewed all of the videos and selected 16-year old Eden Getahun of Sacramento County as the 2020 POL Champion. Although Kayla did not take home the state title this year, she won a special distinction as one of the top scoring finalists. The state’s full press release can be read HERE.
Kayla Salazar shared her experience with the program saying, “Poetry Out Loud is a place for me to express myself through the beauty of poetry. It is a place to recite poems and fill my emotions and personality to serve as the voice of the poetry, as if the words of the poem came from my very soul.”
More about Poetry Out Loud
The San Benito County Arts Council has been facilitating Poetry Out Loud for five years in the county. Students from Anzar High School took the win for four years, and San Benito High School is celebrating its first win.
The 2020 State Finals marked the 15th year of the program for high school students, which encourages youth to learn about poetry through memorization and performance. All but five of California’s counties participated in this year’s event, with 53 student champions competing for the title.
Poetry Out Loud, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, administered by the California Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud inspires in high school students the confidence to make themselves heard, using one of the most powerful tools at their disposal—art. Students are given the opportunity to interact with the words of the masters through recitation, building a relationship with the works and creating a sense of shared ownership branded by their own technique of volume, pitch, pace, and personal point of view.
The California Poetry Out Loud State Finals is the culminating competition between county winners who have shown their merit in the classroom, school, district, and county (a pyramid competition structure similar to a spelling bee). California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and has grown steadily since its inception. The 2020 competition series encompassed 53 counties, 282 schools, and 769 teachers, reaching nearly 56,000 students statewide.
Please contact the San Benito County Arts Council to learn more at 831.636.2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.