Optimist Club to hold annual oratorical contest

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The 2018 Zionsville Optimist Oratorical winners, from left, Grayson Zinn, Mitchell Canada, Kim Cravens, Robin Murphy, Garret Anderson and Chayleigh Schwartz. (Submitted photo)

Students will have a chance to speak their minds and practice eloquence at the Zionsville Optimist Club Oratorical Contest, set for 6 p.m. March 26 at Zionsville Community High School’s Old Auditorium.

The ZHS competition is part of the larger Optimist International Oratorical Contest. The topic is “Is There a Fine Line Between Optimism and Reality?”

The ZOC is an extension of Optimist International, a worldwide volunteer organization of more than 2,500 local clubs with the mission to make the future brighter by bringing out the best in children and their communities. Optimist Club members conduct uplifting service projects throughout the year.

“The contest is designed for youth to gain experience in public speaking, perfect self-expression, gain self-assurance, improve communication skills and provide them with the opportunity to compete for a college scholarship,” said Tim Ottinger, contest co-chair.

Speeches will be judged on content and presentation, with winners receiving monetary awards and certificates. The top winners will be eligible to move on to the zone level and then to the district level, with the opportunity to win up to $2,500 in college scholarships. Winners of the district competition will compete at St. Louis University in St. Louis, with a chance to win as much as $22,500 in scholarships.

“This is by far my favorite Optimist Club event of the year,” Ottinger said.

The Optimist Oratorical Contest is one of the organization’s most popular programs, with more than 2,000 clubs participating annually. The ZOC has been active in Zionsville since 1981 and has participated in the Optimist Oratorical Contest for more than 15 years.

A number of changes have been implemented this year to streamline the contest, including removing gender categories so that all contestants compete equally.

“I believe it supports a growing and wider belief in gender equality overall,” Ottinger said. “It would certainly make sense for this effort to begin at the elementary and secondary school levels.”

The contest is open to students under the age of 19 as of Oct. 1, 2018. Students wishing to participate in the Zionsville Optimist Oratorical Contest can find out more by contacting Kim Cravens, ZCHS English teacher, at kcraven@zcs.k12.in.us.

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