VERNON — Eighty students memorized and recited poems before hundreds of teachers and peers at Vernon Township High School’s Ninth Annual Poetry Out Loud Competition this month. Junior Sidney Sparta won first place with her recitation of Eavan Boland’s “And Soul,” edging past the winners for second and third places. The scores were so close, there was a tie for second place between McKayla VanOrden and Blake Harrsch, as well as a tie for third place between Caly Simeone and Valerie Cabrera. Every student in the school is given an opportunity to participate, from the Life Skills students to Advanced Placement. Teachers bring their classes down to listen and encourage the competitors, many of them doing this for the first time. It’s a bit intimidating to stand on the stage with only the microphone and spotlight and recite a poem that has been memorized, but this year the students were so well prepared, very few even needed a prompt for a forgotten line or word. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Jonessa Rodriquez, Angele Bielen, Hannah Kolonoski, Mia Amato, Erin Kelly, Alyssa Kozdron, Billy Frank, Allura Insetta, Johann Tascon, Kelsie Shinall, Skylar Port and Wayne Bardowell.The judges returning this year were local chiropractor and VTHS Alum Colleen Drache, Alicia Pollard, VTHS class of 2015 and Mary Ann Kaicher and Dee Franklin, both retired VTHS teachers.Sidney will now go on to compete in the regional competition at MPAC in February.