Press release

Mammoth Lakes, Calif. – The competition among Mono County high school students was fierce at the Edison Theatre Saturday, January 23, for the opportunity to travel to Sacramento and represent Mono County in the State Finals level of Poetry Out Loud, the National recitation contest.

From left, Kate Wilson, Mono County's Poetry Out Loud winner, Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre's Artistic Director and host Shira Dubrovner, and Lance Warner, the runner up. Photo/Aleksandra Mendel

From left, Kate Wilson, Mono County’s Poetry Out Loud winner, Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director and host Shira Dubrovner, and Lance Warner, the runner up. Photo/Aleksandra Mendel

The winner of the 2016 Mono County level of the national contest, for the fourth straight year, was Kate Wilson of Mammoth Academy. The runner up was Lance Warner, of Coleville High School, who must be ready to step in if Wilson cannot for any reason attend the finals in Sacramento on February 29. The 2016 Poetry Out Loud National Finals takes place May 2-4, 2016, at the Lisner Auditorium, The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Ten students from Coleville, Lee Vining, and Mammoth High schools presented two poems each in front of a panel of judges and an appreciative audience that included members of the community in addition to family and friends of the participants. The participants chose and memorized poems that spoke to them from a list of published poems eligible for this year’s contest.

The competitors ranged from high school freshman to seniors and, in addition to Warner and Wilson, included: Kiera Elam of Coleville High School; Joye Lehen, Sophia McKee, Caelen McQuilkin, and Nico Segura of Lee Vining High School; and Dulce Ramirez, Taylor Sanders, and Abby Stoiber of Mammoth High School. The teachers who worked with the students were Sarah Taylor at Lee Vining High School, Brian Johnson at Coleville High School, and Rebecca Thomas at Mammoth High School.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

After successful pilot programs in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Poetry Out Loud was launched in high schools nationwide in the spring of 2006 with tens of thousands of students participating. POL has grown every year with over 365,000 students competing in 2014-2015.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.

Special thanks to the evening’s judges: Jo Bacon, Malcolm Clark, Rich Boccia, Noelle Deinken, and Luan Mendel; to the accuracy judge, Juliana Olinka; the prompter, Shaun Reitman; and the tabulator, Tabby Mannetter. Support for this program in Mono County comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, the California Arts Council, Mammoth Lakes Foundation, Paul and Kathleen Rudder, and the Town of Mammoth Lakes, Measure U.


The Mammoth Lakes Foundation offers free education (books and tuition) to any Mono County resident and/or high school graduate who pursues an AA degree at Cerro Coso Community College and provides year-round theatre programming at Edison Theatre. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact the Foundation at (760) 934-3781 or visit Our nonprofit work is only possible through your generosity

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