High-schooler takes poetry to state level

Catherine Hall, then a senior at Mission Prep, was the 2010 winner of Poetry Out Loud.
Catherine Hall, then a senior at Mission Prep, was the 2010 winner of Poetry Out Loud. Courtesy photo

Mission Prep senior Catherine Hall will represent San Luis Obispo County in a statewide poetry competition.

Hall won first place in the countywide Poetry Out Loud competition, organizers announced Wednesday. She goes on to compete in the California state finals March 15 in Sacramento.

Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2005, Poetry Out Loud encourages high schoolers to study, memorize and perform works by the likes of Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou. Supporters say the nationwide program teaches teenagers poise, public speaking and literary appreciation.

On Feb. 10, Hall wowed a panel of four judges by reciting two poems from memory: Stephen Crane’s “War Is Kind,” and Maurice Kilwein Guevara’s “Doña Josefina Counsels Doña Concepción Before Entering Sears.”

San Luis Obispo High School freshman Ariana Shakibnia came in second place.

The contest also featured students from Lopez Continuation High School in Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay High School, Nipomo High School and North County Christian School in Atascadero.

All six students received gift bags of goodies donated by local stores, said Sara Heinrichs, operations manager for ARTS Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council.

Although there is no cash prize at the county level, she added, Hall and a chaperone will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Sacramento. Winners at the national level receive as much as $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends.