My mom recited poems to my brother and me as children. She instilled in us a deep love of the spoken word. No wonder I became a children’s library lady, a storyteller, and a teacher.
After I retired from teaching, I took a part time job with our local arts council. While there, I helped bring Poetry Out Loud to Tuolumne County, setting up our local program as an outreach to high school students. I worked with TuolCo’s amazing literary guru, Rick Foster. About 60 kids participated that first year.
Tuolumne County’s Poetry Out Loud program has grown exponentially with continuing support from Tuolumne County Arts Alliance. Today POL Coach Rick and drama educator Bonnie Bryson coordinate the program. Now over 600 students participate from all over the county, plus about 25 volunteers helping out. (BTW: In 2015 California had more than 45,0000 POL kids. Not sure about the other 49 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico & Guam!)
Last year Tuolumne County POL’s Champion, Levi Lowe, won the California State Poetry Out Loud competition! At Nationals in Washington, DC, he ranked in the top nine! We’re darn proud of our guy! This program gives kids keen awareness, appreciation and involvement in classic poetry and literature! After Levi’s huge success, the numbers of kids wanting to participate this year has swelled!
But there is a financial cost to carry out this endeavor*. The local budget for Poetry Out Loud runs around $8,000 @ year. It boils down to about $4 for each high school student in our community. So, Peg and I want to help!(* You can call TCAA at 209.532.2787 to ask for a budget summary.)