Featured is senior Leah Maxey (on left) and junior Allison Foster (on right). They took second and first place, respectively, at the Optimist Oratorical Contest district level, allowing them both to advance to Regionals.
On Saturday, April 9, junior Allison Foster swept the regional round of the Optimist Oratorical Contest held at the Sunrise Optimist Clubhouse, allowing her to advance to the state competition in May.
In order to participate in the annual competition held by Optimist International, Foster had to prepare a four to five-minute speech on the assigned topic, “How my best brings out the best in others.”
Foster’s winning speech was composed by characterizing her father as a leader both in the military and in her family household. She explored the aspects of leadership and delved into differentiating management from leadership.
“My dad has been in the military my whole life and he talks to me and my siblings a lot about leadership and about how we are leaders in everything we do, even if we’re not necessarily in a leadership position,” Foster said. “I knew I wanted to talk about leadership because that’s how I bring out the best in others.”
Creative Writing and Speech and Debate teacher Jennifer Black Cone said that Foster was the first Creative Writing student in all of her years teaching to reach the state level of the oratory contest.
Unfortunately, due to the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) tournament conflicting with the Optimist Oratorical district contest on Saturday, March 12, all speech and debate students were restricted from competing in the oratory contest.
“I worked with her on the written portion of the speech,” Black Cone said. “Previously, I worked with her when she competed at Speech and Debate contests. Allison was not competing with the team this year, so that made her available [to compete] for the contest.”
Foster, who placed first at districts, received a scholarship prize of $1,500. While there was no scholarship money allotted at the regional level, Foster looks forward to competing her way up to the state level, and ultimately, the international level.
“This year was the first time they gave scholarship money at the district level,” Foster said. “[The Optimist] gives scholarships at every other level and it goes all the way up to a $20,000 scholarship which is a really great opportunity.”
According to the Optimist International website, the purpose of the contest is to assist young individuals in gaining public speaking experience while also providing them with an opportunity to compete for a scholarship.
“Public speaking is a really important skill to have because no matter what job you pick, you’re going to know how to talk to people,” Foster said. “You may not necessarily have to stand up on a stage and speak in front them, but you’re going to have to know how to communicate with people and I think that’s really what oratory is all about.”
Having known Foster since her elementary school years, Black Cone recognized early on that she had strong abilities in communicating and expressing herself through both written and spoken words.
“She is a talented writer and confident speaker,” Black Cone said. “When watching her speak, I’m always pleased with how comfortable she is in front of an audience. She has an excellent chance of going the distance.”
Click below to listen to Allison Foster’s winning speech on how she differentiates leadership from management.
How do you bring out the best in others? Leave a comment below.