San Ramon Valley High Student Named Winner in 2019 Contra Costa County “Poetry Out Loud” Contest Grace Gilroy wins local competition that emphasizes language skill and public speaking
On Saturday, February 19th Grace Gilroy, a junior at San Ramon Valley High in Danville, took first place in the Contra Costa County “Poetry Out Loud” competition. The event was held in the lovely Campbell Theater in Martinez. The Runner-up position went to senior John Higgins from Prospects High in Antioch, and Third Place to senior Wesley Little from Monte Vista High in Danville. The three were among thousands of students across the state to participate in the national recitation contest, a program started by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and run by the California Arts Council and locally by the Arts & Culture Commission of Contra Costa County (AC5) to engage high school students in the presentation of poetry through memorization and performance. Gilroy advances to the California state finals in Sacramento on March 10 & 11. At stake are hundreds of dollars on the state competition level and thousands at the national finals of Poetry Out Loud.
This is Contra Costa’s twelfth year of Poetry Out Loud competition, and The Campbell Theater held a standing-room-only audience. Among the many fine recitations, Ms. Gilroy’s “Requiem” by Camille T. Dungy, Mr. Higgins’ “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy and Mr. Little’s “Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert helped secure the final outcome.
The very competitive pool of finalists included students from thirteen county high schools: College Park High in Pleasant Hill, Deer Valley High in Antioch, El Cerrito High in El Cerrito, Freedom High in Oakley,
Independence High in Brentwood, John Henry High in Richmond, Kennedy High in Richmond, Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek, Monte Vista High in Danville, Pinole Valley High in Pinole, Prospects High in Antioch, Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond, and San Ramon Valley High in Danville. Countywide, over 3000 students memorized a poem for the program this year. Schools hold competitions to determine which ONE student will represent them in the County finals.
Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3.6 million students and 55,000 teachers from 14,000 schools in every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.