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Poetry Out Loud O’Hara Advances to Nationals

Will Represent California in National Competition

On March 18th, Riley O’Hara, sophomore, was declared the winner of the California Poetry Out Loud competition hosted in Sacramento, becoming the state’s representative. O’Hara will proceed to the national competition hosted in Washington, D.C. O’Hara won the state title for his emotional interpretation and reading of the poem ‘1969’ by Alex Dimitrov. O’Hara is the first in history to win and move on to Nationals as a Sonoma representative. 

O’Hara expresses that he feels “very excited, a little nervous” because “state was not easy so [he] doubt[s] nationals will be any easier.” He explains that his strategy to memorize the poem was by repeating the first and second line and repeating further lines as he goes on until mastering the poem. Before reciting his poem, O’Hara “assessed the skill level of all participants” performing before him which helped his judgment of how to proceed with his strategy with the three chosen poems along all three rounds of the competition. The third round solely focused on the top five participants. 

 The competition of Poetry out Loud goes from county to state, and finally to nationals. O’Hara’s preparation for each competition has changed drastically from his first performance in the school-wide competition. “… there were about 51 participants compared to the seven or eight in county’s, so I knew immediately I had to make myself stand out…I’m pretty sure we can all nail it pretty well, so just doing well based on the rubric isn’t really going to get you that far if you don’t stand out, if you don’t make yourself memorable, so that was my goal going into round one, to just give a memorable performance.” 

O’Hara explains how he believes the competition is “pretty fun if you’re comfortable performing or presenting in front of large groups of people.” 

The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is now accepting any donation to help O’Hara’s coach and teacher Mr. Travis Beall, travel with O’Hara to the final competition in D.C. Mr.Beall would act as a support system for O’Hara. SVEF will be accepting donations until Friday, April 19th. 


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About the Contributors
Alondra Hernandez
Good morning, evening, or night, I am Alondra Hernandez, a senior at SVHS. My biggest interests are music and photography. I grew up around music and photography thanks to my family who made sure to always have these influences around me.
Remy Harrison
Remy Harrison, Writer
Hey Dragons! My name is Remy Harrison, and I am currently a junior at SVHS. As an athlete, I am very passionate about sports! I love to attend games and support other student-athletes, and I am super excited to write and photograph them. I’ve also taken art classes every year I’ve been at SVHS, and I hope to pursue a mixture of all of these things. 

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