Columbia City High School student named Poetry Out Loud State Champion

INDIANA – The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, announced today that Lila Ward, a senior at Eagle Tech Academy, Columbia City High School, is the 2022 Indiana Poetry Out Loud State Champion. Lila will be representing Indiana in the 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Finals.

Lila Ward

Lila has participated in Poetry Out Loud for three years, enjoys theater, and operates her own cake decorating business, JoyCakes. She hopes to be a pharmaceutical chemist in the future. 

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. This year, over 1,000 high school students across Indiana participated in Poetry Out Loud. Fifteen state finalists competed on March 9th for the title of State Champion including several local students.

“The Poetry Out Loud program is a unique opportunity for students to show their talents and creativity through poetry recitation. The students participating in the competition have incredible talent, passion, and determination, and the program is a wonderful example of the powerful role that creativity plays in the classroom,” said Stephanie Haines, IAC Arts Education, and Accessibility Manager. 

Sreepadaarchana Munjuluri, a sophomore at Columbus North High School in Columbus, was named the 2022 Indiana Poetry Out Loud 1st Runner Up.

Aalihya Banks, a sophomore at Pike High School in Indianapolis, was named the 2nd Runner Up. 

Each of Indiana’s fifteen finalists will receive an original Poetry Out Loud artwork designed by artist Tahj Mullins and a book of poetry. As state champion, Lila will receive a $200 cash prize and her school will receive a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books. Both runners up will also receive a cash prize and a stipend for their school to purchase poetry books.  

Lila will join students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa to recite poems on the virtual stage and compete for the title of National Champion. With the title comes a $20,000 prize.  

The 2022 Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals will take place on Sunday, May 1, 2022, and the finals will take place on Sunday, June 5th, 2022. Both will be video submission-based competitions and will be streamed on