Poetry Out Loud draws students from nine local high schools

Students from nine local high schools will test their ability to bring language to life next month.

The students will recite poems from memory Feb. 6 at the countywide Poetry Out Loud competition, organized by the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council, Arts Obispo.

Launched by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2006, Poetry Out Loud encourages high schoolers to study, memorize and recite works by the likes of Maya Angelou and Carl Sandburg.

Students, who compete at a classroom level before advancing to school-wide, county, state and national contests, are judged on accuracy, articulation, physical presence and other factors.

This year’s competition involved more than 3,400 students from Arroyo Grande High School, Atascadero High School, Lopez High School in Arroyo Grande, Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay High School, Nipomo High School, North County Christian School in Atascadero, Paso Robles High School and San Luis Obispo High School.

Nine finalists will perform for a panel of five judges: retired librarian Kathy Henderson, New Times Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach, Vintage 1255 owner John Stipicevich, Festival Mozaic Executive Director Bettina Swigger and Jon Margerum-Leys, dean of Cal Poly’s School of Education.

The winner will represent San Luis Obispo County at the statewide competition, March 16 and 17 in Sacramento.

Poetry Out Loud will be held 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 6 at San Luis Coastal Adult School, 1500 Lizzie St. in San Luis Obispo. For more information, call 544-9351 or visit