2023 Poetry Out Loud Competition

Pinole Valley High School Sophomore Named 2023 Contra Costa County Poetry Out Loud Winner
Posted on 02/15/2023
2023 Poetry Out Loud Winners

WALNUT CREEK, CALIF. – Harper Iles, a sophomore at Pinole Valley High School in Pinole, is Contra Costa County’s 2023 Poetry Out Loud winner. With expressive recitations of poems by Emily Dickenson and Stephen Dunn, Iles became the county champion during the annual poetry event on February 11, 2023, at Las Lomas High School. She was awarded a $200 scholarship and will now compete at the state level. Second place was awarded to Keyla Morales, a junior at Contra Costa School for the Performing Arts. Runner-up Morales received a $100 scholarship.

“Poetry Out Loud is so much more than just a poetry reading,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “Studying and performing poetry in front of a live audience gives students confidence, comprehension, and life skills they will draw upon throughout a lifetime. As a poetry major, I enjoyed the competition and was inspired by these scholars. Thank you to the coach, volunteer judges, and teachers who helped these students thrive on a competitive level.

The 2023 Contra Costa County Poetry Out Loud event was hosted by Contra Costa County Office of Education and Contra Costa County, serving as the countywide culmination of the 1200 students who participated in Poetry Out Loud at their respective schools and districts. Six participants faced off at Saturday’s morning event.

Kimberly Huang, Las Lomas High, Walnut Creek
Harper Iles, Pinole Valley High, Pinole
Enzo Martinucci, El Cerrito High, El Cerrito
Keyla Morales, Contra Costa School for the Performing Arts, Walnut Creek
Aaron Yi, Independence High, Brentwood
Isabella Zendejas, Deer Valley High, Antioch

For photos or video of the event, please contact [email protected].


About Poetry Out Loud
A partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies, 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 for high school students across the country. The program starts in the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then may advance to a regional and/or state competition, and to the national finals. Awards and placements are determined solely by the judges’ scores based on the Poetry Out Loud Evaluation Criteria, including physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy. Poetry Out Loud takes place in all 50 states, American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated in Poetry Out Loud. California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and has grown steadily since its inception.

For more information about Poetry Out Loud and how to participate in the 2023–2024 program, visit PoetryOutLoud.org.

About Contra Costa County Office of Education
One of 58 counties in the state of California, Contra Costa County has the 9th largest public-school student population in the state (approximately 158,401 students). Officially established in 1932, the CCCOE has a long history of providing direct services to some of our county's most vulnerable students, including young people who are incarcerated, homeless, or in foster care, as well as students who have severe physical or emotional challenges.

CCCOE also provides support services to schools and school districts in Contra Costa County; services that can be handled most effectively and economically on a regional basis rather than by each of the county's 285 schools or 18 school districts. These services range from budget approval and fiscal support to technology infrastructure, communication support, and high-level professional development opportunities for educators. CCCOE maintains a website at www.cocoschools.org.

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