Truckee student wins ‘Poetry Out Loud’ contest
TRUCKEE, Calif. – Helen Bansen, a senior at Truckee High, took first place in the Placer County “Poetry Out Loud” competition on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 at the State Theatre in Auburn, Calif.
Helen was one of thousands of students across the state to participate in the national recitation contest, a program run by the California Arts Council and started by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to engage high-school students in the presentation of poetry through memorization and performance.
An aspiring journalism student, Helen has applied and is awaiting word from UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz. In addition to a host of volunteer activities, she is the president of the Truckee High Drama Club and participated in the fall musical, a collection of vignettes from various shows. She also volunteers backstage as a sound and light tech for various school events and is a member of the school’s competitive Academic Team.
Helen advances to the California state finals in Sacramento on March 25-26, 2012. At stake are hundreds of dollars on the state competition level and thousands at the national finals of Poetry Out Loud.
Twelve students from six local high schools participated in the 2012 regional finals, presented by PlacerArts. Skyler Sousa, a senior at Colfax High School, was named runner-up.
Other participants were last year’s winner Charet Bolton and two other Roseville High School students, Zayna Thomas and Ruhi Radke; Gabi Roberts, Colfax High School; Tyler Donaldson, Victory High School; Athena Velasco and Regina Frank, Horizon Charter Schools; Calvin Brady and Karlie Mohun, Truckee High School and Kiersten Hammond, Del Oro High School.
Audience members enjoyed the students’ two poetry recitations, along with musical interludes by Giorgi Khokhobashvili during scoring breaks. Judges for the Placer County finals were Pierre Butler, slam poet and visual artist; Susan Rushton, journalist and John Bowen, poet and writer. Rick Brown, retired Colfax High School teacher, acted as emcee.
“The bar was very much higher than last year, which pleased me no end!” said Stewart Smith, English/drama teacher and thespian from Roseville High, who coached his team of three students.
Anita Eisenman, who coordinated the PlacerArts Poetry Out Loud effort, said, “Angela Tahti, executive director of PlacerArts, puts a lot of time and thought into encouraging Placer County teachers and students to embrace this life-changing program. The results are impressive!”
The Poetry out Loud program seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry: recitation and performance. Poetry Out Loud competitions start in the classroom, then at the school, region, state, and national finals, similar to the structure of the spelling bee. The national initiative is part of an attempt to bring literary arts to students, a critical need in U.S. schools, according to a 2004 NEA report, Reading at Risk, that found a dramatic decline in literary reading, especially among younger readers.
Visit CAC.ca.gov and PoetryOutLoud.org for information.
PlacerArts is the Arts Council of Placer County, a nonprofit, public benefit, and the designated state-local partner of the California Arts Council for the County of Placer.