Two East County high schools recently held Poetry Out Loud events.

Antioch's Deer Valley had its seventh annual event, with Tah-Teonnah Hameen taking first place. The senior recited "The End of Science Fiction" by Lisel Mueller. Robert Dunn ("Cartoon Physics, Part 1" by Nick Flynn) took second, and Megan McConnell ("On the Death of Anne Bronte" by Charlotte Bronte) placed third.

Judges were Darwin Marable, aContra Costa Arts & Culture commissioner; Kati Short, Brentwood poet laureate; Marion Ferrante of Delta Wordweavers; Robin Moore, Contra Costa Poetry Out Loud coordinator; Kit Hein, retired librarian; and volunteer Jim Guinasso.

Tobey Kaplan from the California Poets in the Schools offered a day of coaching to the participants, while Deer Valley teacher Pandora Bethea was event coordinator and coach.

Although this was Hameen's first POL contest, Bethea said, "Her voice and articulation, the dramatic appropriateness of the recital, her physical presence and how she was able to internalize the poem ... made it understandable to the audience."

Brentwood's Independence High featured nine students, with Anastazia Tedford winning first place. Amata Abatcha came in second, and Katherine Buffum placed third. Other participants were Jesse Pickell, Taryn Chambers, Danielle Belus, Michael Pillow, Jonathan Ortiz and Chandler Lewis.

Judges were Liberty district assistant superintendent Gene Clare; Bob Sanchez, Antioch district director of student services; Charlene Souza, a Liberty retiree; and Alivia Logan, an Independence High grad. Robin Moore, the county Poetry Out Loud coordinator, also attended.

Independence teacher Susan Laird said she was very proud of each student and congratulated them for their "composure and courage to make such a difficult presentation in front of a large audience."

Hameen and Tedford moved to the next level Feb. 8 at Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek with other county winners, but they did not advance to the next level.

Poetry Out Loud is a National Recitation Contest conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The county winner moves on to the state competition.

'Peter Pan' on stage: Peter Pan will figuratively don a lovely shade of purple this weekend as Edna Hill Middle offers special performances for the area's Relay for Life. There will be two showings of its current "Peter Pan" offering at 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Brentwood school, 140 Birch St.

The "purple performance" is an annual tradition, with money benefitting cancer research.

"This will be the eighth year. We have (donated about) $12,000," said director/teacher Bart Schneider. "The kids are amazing. They love to be in an extra show and know the main goal is to raise money." Tickets are $5. Call 925-513-6440 or email bschneider@brentwood.k12.ca.us

CENTER STAGE: Los Medanos College is one of four schools included in an invitational theater festival. Joining the Pittsburg community college are Boise State University, University of Colorado-Boulder and Western Washington University. The four were selected from 21 eligible productions from the region. Los Medanos was chosen for its "Fences" play.

The 46th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival runs Feb. 18-22 at Boise State in Idaho. Featured keynote speakers include Idris Goodwin and Robert Mark Morgan, with Dramatists Guild guest Samuel D. Hunter. The event is sponsored by the Dramatists Guild of America, the Northwest Drama Conference and the United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT).

The event, which includes 1,000 students and faculty, celebrates the excellence and achievement in theater in higher education, according to the news release. Visit www.kcactf.org.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. Note: Trine also does outreach for Antioch High.