Auburn Hills Morning Optimist Club brings out the Best in Students

“How my best brings out the best in others,” the theme for the 2016 Optimists International Oratorical Contest, was addressed by sixteen students from Avondale Middle School during the first round of the world-wide competition that could land the winners scholarship awards ranging from $2,500 – $15,000. The sixteen, Ava Hall, Sydney Smith, Esha Kaul, Hannah Bahorski, Elena Toomajian, Amanda Dowd, Samantha Lloyd, Qijia Zhou, Gordy Gwilt , Brendan Pagel, Jack Youngs, David Ghitas, Thejas Rengaswamy, Alex Mueller, Jad Fakhoury, and Ajay Sumanth were selected from hundreds of 6th through 8th grade students to represent the Middle School at the Auburn Hills Morning Optimists Oratorical Contest – the first in a series of contests designed to determine the best student orators in the world and sponsored by Optimists International.

First Place Auburn Hills Morning Optimists Club Oratorical winners, Alex Mueller and Esha Kaul

First Place Auburn Hills Morning Optimists Club Oratorical winners, Alex Mueller and Esha Kaul

The speeches contained glimpses into the personal lives of each student as they shared the experiences that revealed how their best brings out the best in others. They talked about participation in athletics and clubs; parents and grandparents who had set examples for them; and famous and historic figures who had influenced them. “Everything about the students’ presentations was top notch,” said Avondale School District Superintendent, Dr. James Schwarz. “From the writing to the delivery – it was an amazing demonstration of how capable our middle school students are.”

Under the guidance of their teachers, Maria Kopicki, Mary Nofs, Jodi Berger, Kristy Blewett and Rebecca Cole, the students spent weeks writing and practicing their speeches. “It was clear that the students put everything into the final presentation, “ said Schwarz, adding that he didn’t envy the judges task of narrowing the field to the top speakers.

The judges used specific criteria to rate the orations. Speech content was judged by whether the students spoke on the assigned topic; whether they had a proper introduction and conclusion; and the logic and coherent development of the theme. Delivery and presentation are judged on voice quality, pitch and volume; enunciation and pronunciation of words; use of gestures; and the students’ ability to convince the audience of their point. Once the ratings were tallied, the judges announced two winners, Alex Mueller and Esha Kaul, who will advance to the Optimist International Regional contest in April. Winners of that round continue on to subsequent levels of the competition and scholarship awards.

“The oratorical contest is a great opportunity for the students to hone their writing and speaking skills, “ said Schwarz, “and another great example of how the Auburn Hills Morning Optimists Club supports our kids.” Schwarz listed a dozen or more events and activities that the Club supports including Christmas and Back-to-School Shopping for students in need, Tri-Star Basketball competitions, Bike Safety, Junior Golf League, Avondale Bowling for Backpacks, the Avondale Education Foundation Hearts and Hands Fun Run, and the Avondale Academy Prom. “They’re a great group of people and a real friend of youth,” he added.

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