What once was 88 is now 10.

Five students from Hayfork High School and five students from Trinity High School will compete at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center in Weaverville to determine the Trinity County champion of Poetry Out Loud.

One student will represent the courage and commitment of Trinity County at the State Finals in March. Admission is free.

I believed that our students would not engage in poetry. I believed that they would think that poetry is for old people and could not express them. I have never been so happy to be so wrong!

We who have experienced the school competitions have discovered that there is no barrier of gender, age, ethnicity or economic status as we are seeing students from both communities deliver complex, thought-provoking and impactful performances.

Finalists range in age from freshman to senior, however, the emotional maturity and complexity of the poems that are being recited are of the highest level.

These students and their chosen poems tackle topics of grief, political dissention, war, unrequited love, and raising 300 goats. Competing in a poetry contest, memorizing and reciting two poems in front of your peers and adults takes many hours of work.

As they stand alone on the stage, they represent themselves, their team, school, town, and now, Trinity County. These students have discovered that poetry provides them a voice and a means of expression. They appreciate the sense of accomplishment of mastering a difficult challenge.

The Trinity County Arts Council invites you to join us at the Poetry Out Loud county competition.

Hayfork High School: Jeremiah Lewis, Sunshine Montgomery, Jazlynn Buell, Hailey Drake and Ryah Souverville;

Trinity High School: Abbie Cominskey, Kayla Prestley, Corbin Hayth, Isis Keyes and Amelie Becker.

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