Douglas High Student Takes 3rd At Nevada Poetry Out Loud Competition

Posted By on March 13, 2017

by Guy Clifton, Nevada Arts Council · 3 min read

RENO, Nevada – Douglas High School’s Lea Gifford finished in third place at the Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals, held in Reno on Saturday (March 11).

Gifford, a junior at Douglas, earned a $500 cash award and an additional $500 for her school to promote literacy programs.

Yerington High School junior Gabrielle Hunt finished in first place and will represent the state of Nevada at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C., in April. Elko High School’s Cache Black finished in second place.

Speech and debate have been a huge part of Gifford’s life and she has found great love in humorous interpretation as well as storytelling and poetry. When she is not doing homework for her AP classes, she likes to draw, dance and write short stories.

Gifford has played the piano for the last six years and enjoys playing classical music. She credited her mother, Alecia Gifford; her coach, Karen Heine; and her teachers, Cheyenne Contreras, Mena Dedmon and Mark Kuniya for helping her prepare for competing in Poetry Out Loud.

Douglas High School junior Lea Gifford finished third in the Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals on Saturday in Reno She won $500 for herself and $500 for Douglas High to promote literacy programs. Photo by Guy Clifton/Provided by Nevada Arts Council

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. NEA Chairman Jane Chu attended Saturday’s program at KNPB Channel 5 Studios in Reno.

Gifford was one of 12 regional finalists from around Nevada to compete in the event. All 12 poets recited two poems in preliminary rounds with the top three advancing to read a third poem in the final round.

A dynamic educational program, Poetry Out Loud begins at the local level as students learn about, memorize and finally present poetry – out loud. More than 2,800 Nevada high school students participated this year. Participants advance from school to district competitions and then to the Nevada State Finals.

The other district finalists in Saturday’s competition included:

· Carson City: Emily Matuska, sophomore, Carson High School
· Clark County: Gillian Lajda, sophomore, East Career and Technical Academy
· Humboldt County: Tanner Ames, senior, Albert Lowry High School
· Lincoln County: Nathanael Frehner, senior, Lincoln County High School
· Nevada Virtual: Erica Jean Peterson, sophomore, Nevada Virtual Academy
· Nye County: Octavio Jesus Maldonado, junior, Beatty High School
· Pershing County: Christopher J. Wilbur, junior, Pershing County High School
· Storey County: Pandora Arredondo, junior, Virginia City High School
· Washoe County: Skye Matuzak, sophomore, Truckee Meadows Community College High School

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 and activities such as the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation competition for high-school aged students, traveling exhibits, artist residencies, workshops and cultural assessments. The Nevada Arts Council is funded by the State of Nevada, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other public and private sources. For more information, please visit