EHS Takes Top Spots at Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition


courtesy of Veda Kommineni

Senior Alex Walker and sophomore Veda Kommineni pose with their regional POL awards. The two will advance to the state competition on March 13.

TTO Staff

EHS made history with two students taking the top spots at the Poetry Out Loud regional competition Thursday night.

Senior Alex Walker placed first and sophomore Veda Kommineni placed second.

“When they announced my name, I was pleasantly surprised,” Kommineni said. “I was not surprised Alex won, but I was surprised I did… It was awesome.”

Walker was also pleased with his first ever showing at the regional competition.

“[I felt] excited and shocked because the other people there performed very well,” Walker said. “It was almost kind of unbelievable.”

After a classroom competition in his AP Language and Composition class, Walker’s interest in poetry sparked. English teacher Kirk Schlueter insisted that Walker participate, offering to assist him in preparing for the regional competition.  

“[Mr. Schlueter] said I was fairly good at it,” Walker said. “I thought it’d be pretty cool…this is the first time I’ve been proficient in something like this.”

 Walker decided to recite the poem “The Conqueror Worm” by Edgar Allen Poe because it fit his “demeanor, voice, and method of presentation.” 

Walker and Kommineni have experience as public speaking students in English teacher Cara Lane’s classes, who happened to be in the audience the night of the regional poetry competition. 

“It was really, really exciting,” Ms. Lane said. “From what I saw, I felt that they had very, very strong competition, so that was all the more glorious because it was not something that appeared to be a guarantee.”

EHS was up against Freeburg Community High School, who had taken the regionals victory last year. This made EHS’s showing special to Kommineni.

“I thought for sure that the first spot would go to one school and the second would go to the other, not two of the same school,” Kommineni said.

Kommineni and Walker will compete against approximately 30 students from other regions of Illinois on March 13 at the state competition in Springfield.