The Optimist Club of Alpena is encouraging area students to speak their minds about the topic, "How My Passions Impact the World," as part of the Optimist International Oratorical Contest for the 2013-14 year.
The Optimist Club will judge the local students' speeches based on content and presentation to determine the top winners. Winners will receive cash awards for first, second and third, and the winning speeches will be sent to the zone level, and possibly the district level for the opportunity to win college scholarships.
Students under the age of 18 as of Dec. 31, 2013, who have not yet graduated from high school or the equivalent, are eligible to participate.
"As they prepare for their future, many of our local students need experience expressing their thoughts and opinions to an audience," Club President George Killwald said. "The Oratorical Contest challenges them to do just that and also offers an opportunity for scholarships. In this way, our club hopes to bring out the best in each of them and help them achieve their goals for the future."
This is the 21st year that the Optimist Club has sponsored the contest which awards prizes of $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place. Boys and girls are judged separately, and speeches must be longer than four minutes but less than five.
The Optimists are hoping area teachers and parents will continue to see the value in the annual contest and encourage their students and children to participate.
"For students at the junior high or high school, we have provided their English teachers with applications for the contest. If any teachers or other students would like more details about the contest please just contact me," Oratorical Contest Chairman Pete Wilson said. "We are very proud of this program as we have seen that it really has a lasting benefit in developing kids' self-confidence and speaking skills. We hope teachers and parents will help encourage kids to participate."
The deadline to hand in speeches is Feb. 21. Students wishing to participate can find out more about the contest by contacting the club at 657-6420.
Optimist International is one of the world's largest service club organizations with 93,000 adult and youth members in 3,200 clubs in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico and throughout the world.
The Optimist Oratorical Contest is one of the organization's most popular programs, with more than 2,000 clubs participating each year. Carrying the motto "Bringing Out the Best in Kids," Optimists conduct positive service projects that reach more than six million young people each year.