Douglas High student heads to national finals
Jake Reid had a lot of people rooting for him when he took the stage Saturday at the University of Nevada, Reno, to compete in the Nevada State Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest.
In the end, however, it was the 16-year-old Indian Hills poet’s enthusiasm that won him a spot in the national Poetry Out Loud contest in Washington, D.C., a check for $1,000, plus $500 for the school’s poetry program.
“I’m just … you have no idea,” said Jake to Douglas County School District Superintendent Carol Lark on Tuesday morning. “I am overwhelmed with joy right now.”
The superintendent told Jake what it means to the district that he is representing them.
“I have a lot to represent,” Jake agreed.
Lark had been one of the judges in the schools contest which Jake won on Feb. 23.
“I sent him a letter telling him ‘good luck’ before he won (Saturday) because I was so impressed by his performance here,” said Lark.
Jake, who writes as well as recites poetry, attributes much of his success to his parents, Bob Reid, also a write, and his mother, Carol Reid, who gives sermons at their church. Both of his parents attended the recitation contest in Reno Saturday, where Jake competed against 12 Nevada students.
“We didn’t really allow ourselves to think about Washington, D.C., because we didn’t want to pressurize the situation,” Jake’s mother said. “We were so moved by the performances of all the young people. Jake did better than he’d ever done.”
As the 2007 state champion, the third year of Poetry Out Loud, Jake will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the national finals April 29ÐMay 2 at the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Jake will compete against 50 other students from each state and the District of Columbia in a semi-final competition on Sunday, the day they arrive. Twelve finalists will be selected to compete on May 1. The national champion wins $20,000, second place is $10,000, third place is $5,000, with the remaining nine finalists receiving $1,000 each, with each of their schools getting $500.
Jake recited The Secret of Machines,” by Rudyard Kipling, “Rough Music,” by Deborah Digges and “Walking Down Park,” by Nikki Giovanni on Saturday, and plans to recite the same poems at the national finals. He was one of 1,200 in the state who participated, and 200,000 who competed nationally.
“My dad said ‘You are the sole survivor of more than 1,200 kids,'” said Jake. “It’s really exciting for me to think of it that way.”
Bob Reid was excited for his son Monday morning and said it had been an “incredible” experience at the contest on Saturday.
“It was like a big sporting event,” said Reid. “The world series. A home run. Jake hit a home run.”
Jake said he wants to put most of the $1,000 in the bank, but will keep some of it out.
He said he was a little nervous before going on stage, but after he began speaking he surprised himself when he found out he did even better in front of large crowds.
Jake’s poetry recitation coach and drama teacher James Scoggins had given him some advice the day before, telling him to watch a fun movie about a beat poet, “So I Married an Axe Murderer.”
“I don’t think this would have happened without your leadership,” said Lark, to Scoggins.
Principal Marty Swisher said it means a lot to the school to be represented nationally for literacy.
“It’s awesome,” said Swisher. “I couldn’t be happier for Jake. He deserves it.”
— Jo Rafferty can be reached at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 210.
The Nevada State Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest was presented in partnership by the Nevada Arts Council, the Nevada Alliance for Arts Education, the Nevada Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. The event was hosted by the UNR College of Liberal Arts and the School of the Arts. More information can be found at http://poetryoutloud.org.