The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt a Resolution on April 11 proclaiming April as National Poetry Month. The recipients of the Resolution will be representatives from Orcutt Academy. This is in part due to a recent event pitting 2,000 Santa Barbara County high school students against each other in a poetry reading competition where students from Orcutt came out on top.
The contest, entitled “Poetry Out Loud,” included 2,000 student participants from many of the county’s high schools: Dos Pueblos High School, Cabrillo High School, Pioneer Valley High School, Laguna Blanca School, Orcutt Academy High School, Carpinteria High School and Santa Maria High School were all represented.
Winners for the event were chosen based on criteria that included level of difficulty, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, physical presence, accuracy and overall performance. After dozens of presentations, Orcutt Academy High School student Chloe Sheley took first place in the county competition. Sheley won for her reading of the poem “Personal” by Tony Hoagland. Runner-up was awarded to Derek Sportsman, also an Orcutt Academy student, for his recital of “The Mortician in San Francisco” by Randall Mann. Sheley went on to represent Santa Barbara County at the state finals in Sacramento, hosted March 12–13. She will be honored locally for her feats within the county and at state in an upcoming event.
Poetry Out Loud was founded as a national event in order to promote an appreciation for reading in young adults, after reports in 2004 declared a sharp decline in literary reading. On top of encouraging thousands of high school students to read, memorize and develop esteem for poetry, Poetry Out Loud funds the trip for individual state winners to travel to Washington D.C. in order to compete at the national level. In addition, state finalists receive a donation for their school’s library.