Darby students show off public speaking skills at Hilliard Optimist oratorical contest

This past Saturday, on March 3, 17 students from all around the Hilliard city school district gathered at the Heritage Golf Club for the annual Hilliard Optimist Organization Oratorical Contest. Nine of the most talented public speakers from Heritage middle school and Darby represented the panthers at the contest. In the end, two of the top three girl speakers and two of the top three boy speakers came from either Heritage or Darby, one of which who was the overall winner of her group.

    Students have been preparing their speeches for months in anticipation for the contest. Each speaker must complete a speech within the time limit of four to five minutes. Each speaker had also been given a prompt to develop their speech around. This year’s prompt was, “where are my roots of optimism”. Students must present their speech in front of an audience of family members and their fellow competitors, as well as a panel of judges. The speakers are judged on a number of criteria, such as voice, grammar and inflection, as well as content and quality of ideas in their speech.

    The contest began with the female speakers and after a short intermission, the male speakers spoke. After the speaking, the judges deliberated and chose the top three female and male speakers. For the males, Darby Sophomore, Nathan Hampton took third, defending champion, Darby senior, Rahul Manne took second, and Memorial 8th grader, Jahari Henry, took first place. For the females, Memorial 8th grader, Megan Walker took third, defending champion, Darby sophomore, Zahra Khuro took second, and Darby Freshman, Irshad Molla took first place. Each of the top three speakers earned a cash prize, $100 for third, $150 for second, and $250 for first. The winner will also go on to compete at a follow up competition on April 2, in Brunswick, Ohio.


    Although not every student who competed is recognized in the top three, every one of them should be proud of all of their hard work and preparation. Many students, such as Sophomore speaker, Zara Khuro, spent months preparing and memorizing their speeches. Khuro has participated in the contest for 3 years and has been a winner of the competition in the past. Khuro was also eager to return to the competition this year.

    “I really enjoy public speaking and the contest gives me an opportunity to share my voice,” Khuro said.

    The contest is run by the Hilliard Optimist Club and prompts for next year’s speeches as well as prompts for the club’s essay competition come out in the fall.

However, it is never too late to start preparing. Khuro also gave some advice to anyone interested in public speaking.

     “Take time to really think about what you’re planning to say, because into order to give a strong and meaningful speech, we have to wholeheartedly believe in what we are saying first.” Khuro said.

    Be sure to sign up for the competition next year, in order to be eligible for the Hilliard Optimist scholarship program and maybe win some cash.

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