JHS Senior Grayson Holt Wins Optimist Oratorical Speech Contest

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JAMESTOWN – The 2019 Optimist Oratorical Contest was held on January 10th at the Winifred Crawford Dibert Boys & Girls Club.

JHS senior, Grayson Holt won first place, JHS senior, William Karr placed second, and sophomore Jacob Anderson came in third.

The topic for this year’s speech was: “Is there a fine line between optimism and reality?” and each four to five minute speech had to be memorized. The other students who competed were sophomores: Ryan Malarkey, Stephanie Beriso; junior: Allyson Buck, and seniors: Finley Holt, Morgan Tracy, Sofia Isabella, Asha deHarder, Emily Crasti, and Brooke Almquist. All are students in Barbi Price’s College Level Public Speaking class at JHS.

Winner, Grayson Holt said, “The Optimist Oratorical Contest is an amazing opportunity for me to speak on a topic that is vitally important to me because optimism motivates me to do my best in any situation. Public Speaking is a critical but often neglected skill. Having a teacher as competent and passionate as Mrs. Price, I believe, will give me the necessary resources to do well in the following rounds of competition.

“During my speech, I felt surprisingly confident,” added William Karr. “Mrs. Price really prepared us with specifics of what to expect. When I was giving my speech, so many thoughts we’re going through my mind. Throughout the semester, Mrs. Price has heavily stressed to us that giving a speech is far more than just simply relaying words and factoids. It’s really more about how the speaker delivers his speech through gestures, eye contact, vocal variation, pacing, and passion. During my speech, I kept reminding myself to check every one of these boxes.”

Karr continued, “I am truly proud of everyone who participated in the Optimist Oratorical Competition. In my opinion, literally any one of us could have placed in the top three. Every contestant put extensive time, effort, passion, and personality into their speeches. Regardless of where anyone placed, we should all be extremely proud of what we accomplished! Unlike many other classes, Public Speaking truly teaches students valuable lessons that transcend the realm of the classroom!”

Mrs. Price remarked, “Participating in this oratorical competition gives my students another chance to craft, memorize, and deliver speeches before a panel of objective evaluators. It’s a valuable “real life” experience, and the students from JHS comported themselves beautifully. The judges commented on the difficulty of deciding the winners because all of our students were so poised, prepared, and polished!”

Jacob Anderson added, “Placing third at the Optimist Oratorical contest has been a great milestone in my academic career. I’ve never been the best public speaker, but Public Speaking has helped me improve and set me on a track for a better future.”

Holt, Karr, and Price will travel to Lockport in February to compete at the “zone” level. The ultimate prize is a $22,000 college scholarship.

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