By Taylor Haggerty
The Optimist Club in West Bloomfield is holding an oratorical contest, where students have to present a four- to five- minute speech in response to the prompt “Why My Voice is Important.” The contest, to which entry is now closed, will take place on April 9.
In previous years, the cutoff age had been 16 years of age, but this year it has been extended to 18, allowing for more high school students to compete.
The speeches will be performed in front of three judges who will then decide on a winner together. The competition will be divided between girls and boys, and in order to prevent an unfair advantage, the judges will not be acquainted with any contestants and proof of birth date will be required for each contestant.
“As students prepare for their future, many need experience expressing their thoughts and opinions to audiences and this give them the opportunity to practice and improve their skills,” said Marge Schwartz, one of the directors of the event.
Medals go to the top three girls and boys, who are then sent to the Zone level. If they win there, as well, they advance to the District competition and have the opportunity to win $2,500 in scholarship funds.
Competing in this contest allows for the opportunity to win scholarships at both the regional and national levels. Considering how often public speaking and presentation is necessary in high school and college classes, the competition can also provide important experience and help to get rid of stage fright. The competition is an annual event, and has been hosted at The Optimist Club almost since its founding in 1972.