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Aiden Storms Wins Regional Poetry Out Loud Championship!

WSD students won top awards at the St. Charles County Regional Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition,
the local portion of a a national arts program that encourages students to learn about great poetry through

Junior Aidan Storms won first place at the THS competition and senior A’Nija Hughley took first at NPHS,
As the school winners, these two progressed to the regional competition February 14. Storms won first place at
the regional competition; Hughley was the runner up. With this win, Storms will progress to the state competition
in Jefferson City on March 7. Both competitors were awarded an anthology of Poetry from the “Saturdays
Writers Group.”

“I was so glad that I reached out and tried something new. The accomplishment that I felt when I won
an event in something that I recently picked up gave me confidence to try new things... Since beginning the
competition I have begun to read more and write some of my own poetry. Not many students are into poetry
and it has definitely added to my skill set,” Storms said.

At the state competition, Storms will perform three poems: “Cathedral of Salt” by Nick Flynn, “The
Affliction of Richard” by Robert Bridges and “In Childhood” by Sarah A. Chavez.
Participation in the POL competition is designed to help students improve their public speaking skills and
build their confidence in presenting in front of a group, while further exploring the beauty of classical and
modern poetry.

At the school level, each competitor must memorize and present two poems of varying lengths and
publication dates. This occurs over two rounds of competition, with faculty members judging understanding,
voice, articulation, presentation and other speaking skills. A third poem is required for the regional, state and
national competitions.

The two high schools hosted their school-level Poetry Out Loud competitions in January. Timberland had
five school-level competitors, North Point had six. Freshman Lexi Overton was the THS runner up; junior Gavin
Turner was the NPHS runner up. Comm. arts teacher Sydney Swanson is the NPHS sponsor; journalism teacher
Ida Hoffmann is the THS sponsor.

“Sharing their experiences with other students around the country, gaining new friendships and
cheering each other on throughout the competition is part of the joy of the experience, but gaining a deeper
understanding of how the power of the words can come through when they interpret and recite the words in
their own voice is what makes this event most meaningful,” Swanson said.

Over $50,000 in scholarships and awards are given annually through the national Poetry Out Loud
organization. The winner of the State competition will progress to the national competition in Washington DC in
late April.