Sonora, CA — Levi Lowe, a Sophomore at Sonora High School, won the state competition today and will be representing the state of California at the National Poetry Out Loud Competition. Associate Principal and Director of Student Activities Ben Howell says “A group of his peers from his first period class rode a rooter bus to the event to cheer him on.” Lowe’s Coach Rick Foster and several others were with him at the event today.
Levi recited “A March in the Ranks Hard-Pressed, and the Road Unknown” By Walt Whitman in Round 1 of the competition the report was, “The audience was dead quiet. He captivated the house!” Al Young, one of the judges and the California Poet Laurette 2005-2009, was the author of the poem that Levi recited in his 3rd round called “The Blues Don’t Change” There were 8 California finalists in the last round of state finals.
The Poetry Out Loud contest is a student competition put on locally by the Tuolumne County Arts Alliance. According to BZ Smith, who judged the local competition this year and who has organized the competition in the past, “Levi’s performance was very, very, strong and all the judges thought he would be strong at the state level.” According to Smith there were about 30,000 other students competing.
Smith also noted that Tuolumne County has done very well in the past, “This is the seventh time Tuolumne County Arts Alliance has held the competition and each year the winners place in the top 20 statewide.” Jonathon Bermea took third place statewide in 2012. Tuolumne County Arts Alliance Executive Connie O’Connor says, “Jonathon has been a beacon and instrumental in paving the way in coaching and inspiring students to do this contest.” She says, “It takes a lot to do this, it really is a family affair, in terms those who donate and participate locally.” Lowe’s older brother, Miles Lowe, also competed at the local level. O’Connor says, “All of the teachers; at Sonora High School, Carol Woods and Maggie Hobson, they are phenomenal, as well as all the other teachers who participate at the other schools.”
Lowe will compete at the National Level with 53 other state champions at the George Washington University in Washington, DC on April 28, 2015. The Poetry Out Loud semifinals will take place from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PDT. Nine finalists will advance to the National Finals the following day. The competition will be webcast on the National Endowment for the Arts’ website here.
The news story about the local competition is here.
The results of the National Competition are here.