Douglas High senior wins second Poetry Out Loud title

DHS junior Lea Gifford recites the first of two poems she presented Thursday.

DHS junior Lea Gifford recites the first of two poems she presented Thursday.

Douglas High senior Lea Gifford will be representing the county for the second year in a row at Nevada’s Poetry Out Loud competition on March 3 in Reno.

Gifford came in third at last year’s state competition.

She won the county competition on Feb. 1, according to coordinator Maryjane Dorofachuk

Nearly 3,600 high school students participate in the competition, which started in October.

District champions representing Douglas, Clark, Elko, Storey, Lyon, Pershing and Washoe counties are being determined in the first half of February. Carson City held its district event in November.

Each district champion will go to the Nevada State Finals, which will be held at KNPB with the state champion advancing to represent Nevada at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals April 23-25 in Washington, D.C.

Structured similarly to the National Spelling Bee, Poetry Out Loud is focused on literary heritage through memorization and performance of classic and contemporary works.

“The talent and confidence we see in students, who get on stage and make these works their own, is just really remarkable,” said Dorofachuk, arts learning director for the Nevada Arts Council, a sponsor of the program. “These teenagers inspire and they learn that words matter.”

The Poetry Out Loud state champion earns $200, wins $500 for his or her school to support literary programs, and travels to Washington, D.C., to compete for $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes at the national finals.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with National Endowment for the Arts. For more information on the state finals, contact Dorofachuk, at 702-486-3738 or visit

The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, is charged with ensuring that state and national funds support cultural activity and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada. In addition to providing hundreds of grants to arts and community-based organizations, schools, artists and local municipalities throughout the state, the Arts Council coordinates a variety of statewide programs, traveling exhibits, artist residencies, workshops and cultural assessments.


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