Katie Ibershoff was selected as this year’s Poetry Out Loud winner for the Reno/Sparks area. Ibershoff is a sophomore at Rainshadow Charter High School.
Poetry Out Loud is a national program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about poetry through memorization and performance. The program, in its seventh year, helps students practice public speaking, build self-confidence and teach them about their literary heritage.
High schools across Nevada administer Poetry Out Loud contests.
Reno/Sparks school finalist winners also included second-place winner Izzy Nava, a senior at McQueen High School, and third-place winner Megan Urbano, a junior at Sage Ridge School.
First-place winners from every participating county will receive $100 and move on to the Nevada state contest. The Nevada state winner for the past three years has been Emily Orellana, who attended Rainshadow Charter High School. Like Ibershoff, who won this year in Washoe County, Orellana also first won as a sophomore.
“Her first year winning she was a sophomore and she continued to dominate … and do extremely well at nationals, through her senior year,” said Allison Sertic, spokeswoman for the Washoe County Poetry Out Loud contest.
In Sparks, Excel Christian School participated for the first time this year. Of the 45 students who participated at the school, Christina Ellsworth was selected as the winner.
The daughter of Steve and Heidi Ellsworth, Christina grew up in Reno and is now a junior at Excel Christian School. After high school, she wants to study drama and interior design. She loves to spend time with her animals and she participates in sports.
“It is remarkable that Christina is able to do what she does while overcoming dyslexia,” said Felicia Archer, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
The state finals for Poetry Out Loud will be held March 13 in Reno. Each student will recite two poems and will be judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding and overall performance and accuracy.
The state champion will receive $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to represent Nevada at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. on April 27, and $2,000 for his or her school for the purchase of poetry and/or programming.