Fourteen students from ages seven to 17 will travel to Fresno and Hanford from as far away as North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and other states to showcase their talent at the National Youth Storytelling Olympics Friday and Saturday (April 2-3).

Out of hundreds and thousands of videos from local, regional and national committees, 14 youngsters were chosen for their excellence in the art. The top storyteller, called the “grand torchbearer,” will be determined in competition at California State University, Fresno.

In addition to their storytelling performances, the students will tour local schools in Hanford and Visalia, provide a unique show at the Clovis Library at 10 a.m. on Saturday and visit Yosemite National Park on Sunday.

“These students are exceptional,” said Storytelling Olympics Executive Director Kevin Cordi of Hanford. “As a professional storyteller and teacher for over 15 years, I have seen hundreds and thousands of students and adult tellers, and these students’ talents and abilities belie their years.”

The Friday event is in the Hanford High Presentation Center. The Saturday performance is in the Wahlberg Recital Hall in the Music Building of Fresno State, Each begins at 7 p.m. General admission each night is $5, with discounts for student, seniors and Boy Scouts.

During their visit, the finalists and their companions, including families, coaches

and sponsors, will have the opportunity to hear National Storyteller and Puppeteer Randall McGee, as well as noted storyteller and Fresno State education professor Glenn DeVoogd. Workshops are being co-sponsored by Dr. Imelda Basurto in the Literacy and Early Education Department of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State.

“Torchbearers” will be selected in each age category, plus the “grand torchbearer,” who is the national ambassador for youth storytelling. The grand torchbearer along with a parent are flown an all-expense paid trip to the Smoky Mountain Storytelling Festival in Pigeon Forge, home of Dollywood and one of the key sponsors of the Olympics. Other students from each year have received invitations to tell at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., which has attendance of 16,000 plus.

The Department of Literacy and Early Education at Fresno State, Voices Across America Youth Storytelling Project, East Tennessee State University and the Office of Special Events in Pigeon Forge sponsor the event. The Fresno Library Systems and the Boy Scouts of America Sequoia Council also give support.

For more information about the National Youth Storytelling Olympics, contact Kevin Cordi at 587-0309, Imelda Basurto at 278-0285 or go to

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