SLO High School teacher receives state arts council's first Hero Award

A San Luis Obispo High School teacher has received the California Arts Council’s first ever Hero Award.

James Bruce, who teaches English at the school, received the award Monday during the California Poetry Out Loud state finals in Sacramento.

This year’s statewide poetry recitation competition featured more than 40,000 students from nearly 35 counties vying to represent California on the national stage. Nipomo High School sophomore Jenna Clift represented San Luis Obispo County in the competition.

According to a news release, the Hero Award was established by the California Arts Council to “acknowledge the remarkable work done in the classroom by the thousands of teachers, coaches, teaching artists and others who bring the California Poetry Out Loud program to life.” “It’s the teachers and others who make this program happen, and for that, they are my personal heroes,” said Kristin Margolis, arts program specialist at the California Arts Council.

The council selected Bruce, a graduate of San Luis Obispo High and Cal Poly, as a Hero Award recipient “based his extraordinary outreach with the Poetry Out Loud program in his high school and in other parts of San Luis Obispo County,” the news release said.

Created by the federal 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 Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Carl Sandberg. Locally, the competition is organized by the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council, Arts Obispo.