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Public schools absent in contest

One area school was well represented in a local oratorical contest, thanks in part to teacher involvement.

Before the contestants’ speeches began, Chris Albrecht, president of the Optimist Club of West Knoxville, gave a special thanks to Webb School and its teachers for their support of the Optimist Oratorical Contest, held March 29 at Farragut Town Hall.

“For those of you who don’t know, all our contestants tonight go to Webb,” he said.

Each of the six contestants, all eighth-graders, said that they found out about the annual contest through their English teachers, Alpa Scarbrough and Cynthia Beatty.

Ian Kline, first-place winner for the boys, said, “[Scarbrough and Beatty] let us know about the contest and encouraged us to enter.” Both teachers attended the contest.

Beatty offered both Kline and Macy Parker, first-place winner for the girls, additional help to prepare for the zone competition, the next step in the national contest, where they will compete against other Knoxville-area winners.

She said she would help them “go over [their] speeches with a fine-tooth comb” for flow and content, and then they would “work on memorizing.”

Only two of the contestants said they had previously spoken in front of a large audience.

Kline said he had to speak at his bar mitzvah, while Robbie Britt said he gave “two presentations in Maryville over offensive schemes in football.”

The awards for the Optimist Oratorical Contest were distributed by gender. The winners for the girls were: Parker, first-place; Callon Schmid, second-place. The winners for the boys were: Kline, first-place; Tyrel Prentiss, second-place; David Wilhoite, third-place; and Britt received honorable mention.

First-place winners will give their speeches again and receive a check for $100 at noon, April 12, during Optimist Club’s meeting at Gondolier restaurant. Gold, silver and bronze medals were give to first-, second-, and third-place winners March 29.

Kline and Parker advance to the zone competition later this month. Winners from that competition advance to a regional competition.

The process continues until Optimist Club has contestants for the national competition.

Speeches for an Optimist oratorical contest must fall within an official topic. The topic for this competition was “My biggest challenge is…” Speeches are limited to 4-5 minutes.

Contestants are judged on poise, content of speech, delivery and presentation and overall effectiveness.

Penalties are assessed for the use of props or costumes, failure to comply with time guidelines, failure to announce the official topic of the speech and failure to complete the speech.

Optimist International works to create a more optimistic future for kids by responding to the needs of the local community.

Optimist Club of West Knoxville meets noon on Thursdays at Gondolier.


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