Senoia Optimist Club hosts Oratorical Contest


Participants in the Senoia Optimist Club's Oratorical Contest are, from left, front, Robby Doolittle, Ansley Dees, Brook Shelnutt, Jillian Watson, Makayla Graham and Bristol Terry. Optimist members who conducted the contest are, back, Jim Schuyler and Tony Bell.

The Senoia Optimist Club hosted its annual Oratorical Contest on March 15 at the Senior Citizens’ Center on Howard Road in Senoia.

The speech contest is conducted by Optimist Clubs for students under the age of 18 years as of Dec. 31, 2011 who have not yet graduated from high school or the equivalent and who are educated in the United States, Canada or the Caribbean. This year’s speech topic for all contests was “How my Optimism Helps me Overcome Obstacles.”

The winners of the Senoia contest were Makayla Graham of East Coweta Middle School, first place; Jillian Watson of Newnan High School, second place; and Brook Shelnutt, East Coweta Middle School, third place. Due to schedule conflicts, Watson was unable to take part in the Oratorical Contest held by the Newnan Optimist Club.

Other contestants in the Senoia competition were Ansley Dees and Bristol Terry, both of East Coweta Middle School, and Robby Doolittle of East Coweta High School.

“All of the students did a wonderful job presenting their speeches, and we feel that Makayla will represent our club very well in the upcoming Zone contest,” explained Senoia Optimist President and Oratorical Chair Tony Bell.

Judges in the Senoia contest were Bruce Humphrey, Linda Hackett and Elizabeth Thomas. Humphrey is a fourth generation Senoian whose career in education currently includes 24 years. He presently teaches in the Coweta County school system. Hackett also lives in Senoia and is employed by the Domestic Dependent Education Secondary Schools. Thomas is retired from the Domestic Dependent Education Secondary Schools.

The Optimist Oratorical Contest gives youngsters the chance to speak to the world. More than $150,000 in college scholarships funded by the Optimist International Foundations is awarded annually from this program.

First conducted in 1928, this is one of the most popular programs offered by Optimist International. Nearly 2,000 clubs participate in the Oratorical Contest each year. The winners at the club level receive medallions and zone winners receive a plaque. Districts have the opportunity to provide two $2,500 scholarships or a first place scholarship of $2,500, a second place scholarship of $1,500, and a third place scholarship of $1,000.

The Optimist Club of Senoia is part of an international organization whose motto is "Friend of Youth." Meeting the needs of young people in communities worldwide, Optimist Clubs have been “Bringing Out the Best in Kids” since 1919. Optimist Clubs conduct positive service projects aimed at providing a helping hand to youth.

To learn more about Optimist International, visit the organization’s website at If you would like more information regarding the Senoia Optimist Club, visit the club’s website at . Guests are welcomed at the club’s meetings that are normally 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month at Matt's Smalltown Pizza and the third Thursday at Maguire's Irish Pub. Details are often posted on the club’s Facebook page — see Senoia Optimist Club.

Anyone interested in attending a meeting or an event may call club President Tony Bell at 770-599-3981 or 770-632-9052 or contact any other member of the Senoia club.

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