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Jacob Pruitt, Student at Rancho Cotate, Takes 1st Place at Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud Showcase

On Sunday, February fifth, nine talented high school students, each from a different Sonoma County high school, competed in the Sonoma County Poetry Out Loud Showcase at Sonoma State University's Stevenson Hall. High school participants offered heartfelt recitations of well-known poems in two rounds. Sonoma State offered a tour of the campus for families and participants, following the event. It was an inspiring and fun afternoon with over 50 audience members in attendance.

Jacob Pruitt of Rancho Cotate High School, took first place. Pruitt recited “Oranges” by Roisin Kelly and “Nowhere Else to Go” by Linda Sue Park. In a bio for the event, Jacob states: "I try to break out of the status quo daily by being a multi-school record-holding jock with a 4.0 GPA and an openly emotional way of expressing myself. I have used this side of me since middle school. In the little free time that school and athletics allow, I enjoy dabbling in photography and modeling for my own Instagram."

Chelle Servais, a senior at Santa Rosa High, took second place. Chelle writes in the event bio: "This is my third year participating in Poetry Out Loud. In my free time I like to make art and occasionally write poetry myself. POL gives me a creative outlet to embody language and meaning. After high school I hope to study in the field of sciences." Chelle recited “He Mele Aloha no ka Niu” by Brandy Nālani McDougall and “Summer” by Chen Chen.

Derek Sadorra of Piner High School came in third. Derek's bio reads: "I plan to major in English and apply my college education by becoming an English teacher. Poetry Out Loud has helped me gain confidence in my voice, articulation, and writing. I am certain this will help me in my future career and becoming a leader of this world." Derek recited “The Season of Phantasmal Peace” by Derek Walcott and “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Esteemed local poets, professors and teachers served as judges for the contest including Elizabeth Herron, Jen Hyde, Kim Hester Williams and Kathleen Winter. Jodi Hottel was the event prompter.

Lead classroom teachers and participating high schools included:

Christina Brandenberg, Rancho Cotate High School

Joe Dobbins, Cloverdale High School

Jordan Henry, Maria Carrillo High School

Krista Sievers O’Conner and Hillary Cuff, Petaluma High School

Sarah Walls, Piner High School

Travis Beall, Sonoma Valley High School

Tricia Maxson, Analy High School

William Lyon, Santa Rosa High School

Justin Leong, Roseland Collegiate Prep High School

Congratulations to all participants, and heartfelt thanks to the teachers and coaches who worked to help students prepare their recitations.

Jacob Pruitt will go on to participate in the California state level of competition where he will compete against county winners from dozens of participating California counties. Good luck Jacob!

Poetry Out Loud is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered statewide by the California Arts Council. In Sonoma County, California Poets in the Schools and Creative Sonoma collaborate to create the Poetry Out Loud program locally with additional support from the Sonoma County Vintner's Foundation

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