Oñate High School (OHS) Senior Destiny Gonzales recently earned second place at the 16th Annual New Mexico Poetry Out Loud State Finals. The competition requires high school students to select three poems, memorize them, and then recite them in a way that conveys both the meaning and feeling of each poem, without the use of props, costumes, or music, according to the Poetry Out Loud website.

Poetry Out Loud Winner
Oñate High School (OHS) Senior Destiny Gonzales (right) celebrates her second place win at the 16th Annual New Mexico Poetry Out Loud State Finals with her coach and advisor OHS English Teacher Tim Staley (left).

“Poetry Out Loud helps our young people master public speaking and build self-confidence,” said Governor Susana Martinez, in an interview on the New Mexico Arts Commission website. “It is great training for the rest of your lives, no matter what career path you choose.” In the interview Martinez also noted that 1,600 students and 35 teachers from across New Mexico took part in Poetry Out Loud in the 2017-18 school year.

As part of the award, Gonzales will receive $100 and the OHS library will receive $200 to purchase poetry books. Gonzales’ coach and advisor for the competition was OHS English Teacher Tim Staley.

Under Staley’s leadership as a competition coach and advisor, OHS students have participated in the competition for the past 11 years. In that time, OHS students have respectively earned one first place award and two second place awards.

Arrowhead Park Early College High School (APECHS) Sophomore Micah Wong was also named one of 10 finalists in the state competition. Wong’s coaches and advisors for the competition were APECHS teachers Kernie Zimmerman and Reyes Duran.

At the State level, more than 11,000 high school students across New Mexico have participated in the Poetry Out Loud state recitation competitions for the past 13 years, according to the New Mexico Arts Commission, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

At the national level, the Poetry Out Loud competition was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and administered in partnership with the State Arts Agencies of all 50 states. Since 2005, Poetry Out Loud has grown to reach more than 3 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 schools in every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, according to the Poetry Out Loud website.

-LCPS Communications Coordinator Paul Dahlgren, pdahlgren@lcps.net, (575) 527-5808