Leanna Mentone, a senior at Vernon Township High School, won the regional competition in Poetry Out Loud and is headed to the state competition in Red Bank in early March.
The national competition had been an annual staple at the high school until the pandemic. This was the first year that the school competition resumed, with 60 students memorizing and reciting poems in front of an auditorium full of their peers.
Retired teachers and Vernon residents Mary Ann Kaicher and Dee Franklin judged the school contest, as they have nearly every year, and ranked Leanna as No. 1.
She won the last school competition as a freshman.
This year, she memorized and recited three poems, including “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.