Four local students have been selected to represent Forsyth County in the 2017 Optimist International Oratorical Contest after being named finalists in the county-wide competition that began with almost 5,800 students.
The county competition is the largest Optimist oratorical competition in the world, said Larry Brown, a spokesman for the Sawnee-Cumming Optimist Club.
Srija Somaka, a sophomore at Lambert High School, Vinayak Menon, a sixth grader at Riverwatch Middle School, Bailey Concatto, a senior at West Forsyth High School, and Luca Cordana, a sixth grader at Pinecrest Academy, were each awarded $500 for their speeches on the topic, “What the World Gains from Optimism.”
“The oratorical requires a lot of work by the students, their teachers, parents and Optimist volunteers,” said Gene Valde, oratorical chair of the Sawnee-Cumming club. “I think everyone would agree that it is all worth it once the first orator begins speaking.”
The four winners will now move on to the zone competition. If they win there, they will advance to the area and state levels.
State winners win a $2,500 college scholarship.
“There is so much hope and promise with this generation,” Valde said. “We were blessed to have the ongoing support of Northside Hospital-Forsyth and United Way of Forsyth County, which enabled a record 5,779 Forsyth County students to participate in this year’s event.”
The competition is open to sixth through 12th graders from all Forsyth middle and high schools.
A separate competition allows fifth grade students to gain experience.