Optimistic Competition in Columbia

1 decade 1 year 11 months ago Saturday, April 07 2007 Apr 7, 2007 Saturday, April 07, 2007 5:24:23 PM CDT April 07, 2007 in News

According to the optimist club this oratorical contest has become the group's longest running sponsored program.

Started in 1928, the contest gives the young speakers, all under 16, a chance to compete and practice public speaking.

Young speakers like regional winner Sam Jennings have big ideas. "We need to be ourselves, we need to be independent, we need to be unique and understand that we don't always have to be necessarily what we feel as accepted but as long as we're true to ourselves we'll be fine," she said.

"I just talked about how I'm actually vegetarian and the challenges of being vegetarian and what I do to try to help myself," said regional contestant Maria Doerr.

This regional competition featured contestants from as far away as Kirksville and Rolla all here to practice their art.

Judges evaluated each speaker on their speech content, delivery and presentation.

Organizers say they're always amazed with what students bring each year.

The winners of the regional competition will move to St. Louis where they compete for $1,500 in college scholarships.

This year Kinsey Helton of Kirksville and Samuel Jennings of Rolla earned that honor and move on. They say it is fun but practice helps them overcome their nerves.

"I set it up in my living room or my den, my room and I usually take like my sister or my mom or my dad and I practice it to them and they tell me what they think I can do to improve and I just go from there," Jennings said.

The St. Louis district contest is held in May.

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