Calaveras County Arts Council

Poetry transcended pandemic when Calaveras High School students competed online in the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation competition. CHS student Sydney Button won first place with his stunning version of All This & More by Mary Karr and Israfel by Edgar Allen Poe. Coming in second was Rayne Cutchall. Ana Hernandez took third place. 

 Poetry Out Loud, presented by the Calaveras County Arts Council in partnership with the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance at a series of events leading up to a national competition. 

“This was our third year sponsoring the Calaveras Poetry Out Loud competition,” said Kathy Mazzaferro, executive director of the Arts Council. It was a difficult year. “Because of Covid and its impact on school site time, coaching was at a minimum. We couldn’t hold our on-site pizza lunches. Ultimately, we held the competition on Zoom.” 

Students and judges participated from home, a chancey proposition “because of WiFi drop spots throughout the county with internet connections that can fade in and out,” said Mazzaferro. But despite faulty internet, the students performed beautifully. “I am always impressed with the work the students take on in memorizing a minimum of two poems each,” she said. “This was our champion’s second attempt to win the title.”

Ingrid Hjelmervik took the lead for the third year serving as Poetry Out Loud coordinator. “She does an outstanding job,” said Mazzaferro, who wants to also thank judges Noel Helmbrecht, Lisa McInturf, Catherine Sargeant, and Linda Toren for their careful attention to each student. 

Mazzaferro is proud of the students and the hard work they do for this competition. “We congratulate all the participants on a job well done.”

Students interested in competing in Poetry Out Loud next year can contact Kathy at (209) 754-1774 or