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Optimist clubs crown top young public speakers
Girls’ middle and high school Optimist Club oratorical contest finalists included, from left: Tina Quinn, Lambert High; Abbie Flint, Otwell Middle; Sarah Kale (winner), South Forsyth High; Amber Shell, Central High; Natalie Morris (winner), Lakeside Middle; and Anika Potluri, (alternate) Piney Grove Middle. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

CUMMING — Local Optimists recently announced the elementary, middle and high school county-level winners of the organization’s annual Oratorical Contest.

Each year, students from throughout Forsyth County take part in the contest at their individual schools.

Winners from the schools then move on to compete at the county level of competition. The top two boys and girls at the middle and high school levels then move on to “zone competition.”

The school and county competitions are sponsored by the Sawnee-Cumming and Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Clubs. The program also receives support from United Way of Forsyth County and Northside Hospital-Forsyth.

This year, some 4,500 local students took part in the competition.

“Forsyth County boasts having the largest competition in the world, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our teachers, administrators and club members,” said Jan Norman, oratorical chair of the Sawnee-Cumming club.

Elementary county-level winners were named earlier this month.

Those winners were Darsha Krishnamurthi, from Big Creek, and Ethan Sassine from Pinecrest Academy. First runners-up were Brooke Dohoney, Coal Mountain, and Abhinav Iyer, Big Creek; and second runners-up were Brooklyn Granade and Ryley Alston, Silver City; and Sidd Grupta, Sharon.

Middle and high school winners were named last week.

Sarah Kale, South Forsyth, and Cody Marshall, West Forsyth, were named the high school winners, while Natalie Morris and Alex Webber, both from Lakeside Middle, were named the middle school champions.

All four received $500 awards and move on to zone competition. If they prevail there, they will advance to area and then state competitions.

Winners at the state level receive $2,500 college scholarships.

Speeches in this year’s competition covered a variety of subjects such as bullying, helping others, sports and having a passion for writing.

For the finals, students spoke on “How My Passions Impact the World.”

Norman said every year she is impressed at the quality of the speeches presented by local students.

“I have been working on this project for over 20 years and have been so encouraged by our outstanding young people,” she said. “We truly live in an exceptional community, and it shows in our youth.”