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Poetry Out Loud

In a record-breaking snowstorm for Lake County, the yearly Poetry Out Loud event still happened. On Sunday, February 26th, 2023. Jordan O’Halloran, the coordinator for the event, was on her way to the event from Kelseyville Rivera when she got a text that changed everything. Mike Adams, the manager of the Soper Reese, stated the power had gone out.

Poetry Out Loud is a National art education program. The Recitation Contest seeks to promote the art of understanding and performing poetry by awarding cash prizes to participating high schools.  Lake County has been participating in Poetry Out Loud for over a decade and celebrated last year when a Lake County student placed third in the state competition.

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. To assist students with memorization, the meaning of the poems, and feedback, they are all paired with local coaches who have extensive experience in either poetry or performance.

To find a new location, action had to be taken fast. With it being Sunday, the students deserved their time to show off their talents outside of school hours. With off-the-cuff thinking, Clear Lake High School teacher, Tim Barnes, helped move the event to the Terrace Middle School. This ended up working out.

The three school champions competing were Shaylee Rudy from Middletown High School, Madeline Muniz-Espinoza from Clear Lake High School, and Todd Yadoh from Kelseyville High School. Shaylee was coached by coach, Michele Krueger, who has been participating in Poetry Out Loud for years. Madeline was coached by drama teacher and local actor, Tim Barnes, and Todd was coached by professor and director, John Tomlinson.

Mc’d by Lake County Arts Council Executive Director, Barbara Clark, the competition started only minutes later than the planned start time. The students recited their chosen poems and the room filled with laughter and applause. The students showed bravery, ease, and comfort in their words. Though it was a difficult decision, our judges Richard Schmidt, Darlene Holzapple, Beulah Vega, & Noah Keltner dutifully graded and tallied their scores. In 3rd place was Shay Rudy from Middletown High School. In 2nd place was Madeline Muniz-Espinoza from Clear Lake High School, and the winner of the 2023 Lake County Poetry Out Loud Competition was Todd Yadoh from Kelseyville High School.

Due to technical difficulties, Madeline Muniz-Espinoza represented Lake County at the state level.  Unfortunately, she didn’t place, but she is hopeful for next year. The goal of the Lake County Arts Council for next year is to have more schools and students participate. If you are interested in learning more about Poetry Out Loud, becoming a volunteer, or bringing the program to your school or child, please contact Jordan O’Halloran, the coordinator at johalloran@lakearts.org.

The three school champions in order: Todd Yadoh from Kelseyville High School, Shaylee Rudy from Middletown High School, and Madeline Muniz-Espinoza from Clear Lake High School.

Jordan O' Halloran

Jordan O'Halloran lives in Kelseyville, California with her partner, roommate, and cat. She is addicted to the smell of books, bright colors, and caffeine. A huge advocate for mental health and kindness, she spends every waking moment thinking of the perfect first line. When not writing, you can find her eating cheese, painting, or sleeping. You can follow her writing journey on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter as Jordanjotsjoy.

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