Twelve Sonoma County high schools will be sending students to the countywide Poetry Out Loud competition Feb. 10.

In the program, students memorize then recite poems. The pieces are not written by the students, but are typically considered greats in the English language.

The participating schools include: Analy, Cloverdale, Creekside, El Molino, Elsie Allen, Maria Carrillo, Montgomery, Piner, Rancho Cotate, Roseland University Prep, Santa Rosa and Sonoma Academy.

Santa Rosa High held their qualifying event Thursday night. I acted as one of a handful of judges and watched 27 students recite one poem. The top eight went on to the second round where they recited a different selection. After the first and second round scores were combined, the top three were named.

Santa Rosa’s top eight were: Izzy Castaldi, Ross Brady, Ellie Paul, Arielle Markowitz, Lily Rivera, Alondra Gutting, Stephanie Lawrence and David Gomez. The top three were Castaldi in first place, Brady in second and Paul in third.

The countywide competition is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa. The state competition is March 24 and 25.

Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation program initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts and sponsored in the state by the California Arts Council and the Arts Council of Sonoma County.