Each year the Optimist Club of Arlington sponsors an Oratorical Contest for middle and high school students. The topic touches on optimism and is selected by Optimist International.
Contestants use the topic as they develop a theme for their five-minute speech. They are judged by members of the club and the winner, and often the first runner-up, move on to compete at the District level and the District winner goes on to the Regional level. Each year approximately 40-80 competitors give speeches.
2020 Oratorical contest winners
Optimism reigned supreme for the 2020 Oratorical Contest at Swanson Middle School.
With no officially scheduled contest and complete uncertainty if a contest would occur, 38 students took the initiative to prepare their orations and to digitally video their speeches. The topic was “Just iMagine a World without Borders,” and the students made the most of it.
The Swanson Middle School sponsors, teachers Kathryn Merlene, Leah Graham-McFarlane and Sarah Lyford, provided the venue for creating the 38 video presentations. They then compiled the 38 speeches into a You Tube channel for viewing, one after another.
Trisha O’Hara again served as Chief Judge. After consultations, the sponsors reduced the final contestants from 38 to 20 orators. Trisha O’Hara and Richard Knight then listened to the 20 speeches and tallied up their points to determine the winners.
Each contestant developed a unique theme in their speech. The winner is Ainsley Meck, 14, whose speech focused on “The Importance of Scientific Limitations.” She concludes a world without boundaries would be perfect, but have hidden casualties, like everything else that is perfect.
The First Runner-up was Leonardo Fall, 14, and he spoke to a world without any economic boundaries, where everyone could follow their goals without worrying about the lack of education or where their next meal would come from.
The Second Runner-up is Ananya Sinha, 14, whose speech theme arose from “Overcoming my Own Expectations.” She finds that a world without boundaries would relieve her from the boundary of her own expectations and every action would be genuine.
The Third Runner-up is Audrey Shiplett, 13, whose speech spoke to “Consequences.” She asks if you pick what you need to do over what you want to do, do you think about the consequences and rewards of each?
Abbey Welker, 14, was the Fourth Runner-up. Her speech was about “The Limits That We Can Take.” She addressed her female gender and the future of having no gender boundaries.
Unfortunately, no District (State) Contest is scheduled this year, so our two outstanding winners (usually two are allowed) will not be presenting at the District Contest. Perhaps the overriding theme this year is the Contestant’s Optimism to have the confidence that their speeches were not prepared in vain, as our Arlington Optimist Club continues its unbroken tradition of sponsoring the Oratorical Contest.