From a competitive field of students representing fourteen high schools throughout Contra Costa County, San Ramon Valley High School senior Grace Gilroy has won first place in the county's 2020 “Poetry Out Loud” competition.
Finals were held at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery in downtown Danville on Feb. 8, where participating students read aloud poetry submissions and local judges evaluate student performances on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy and evidence of understanding.
"Countywide, over 3,000 students memorized a poem for the program this year. Schools hold competitions to select a student who will represent them in the county finals," county officials said. "Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country."
As the competition's winner, Gilroy received an award of $200 as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the Poetry Out Loud state finals on March 15 and 16 in Sacramento -- Gilroy did not advance to the national finals after competing in the state competition.
The Danville senior was trailed by Pinole Valley High School's Lily Johnstone, who received a $100 as the competition's first runner-up and Walnut Creek's Las Lomas High School junior Kyla Watkins, who received $50 for their third place finish..
The county finals opened with an address on the importance of the arts by Contra Costa County's Chair of the Board of Supervisor, Candace Andersen, and was judged by Arts Commissioner Elizabeth Wood, poets Allie Marini and Amy Glynn, as well as past Poetry Out Loud winners Abel Pineda and Cheryl Evans.
Other county high schools represented in this year's competition include: College Park High in Pleasant Hill, Deer Valley High in Antioch, El Cerrito High in El Cerrito, Independence High in Brentwood, John Henry High in Richmond, John Swett High in Crockett, Kennedy High in Richmond, Monte Vista High in Danville, Mt. McKinley High in Martinez, Prospects High in Antioch and Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond.