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The start of spring means beautiful weather and pollen allergies. It's also the time of year when I serve as a judge at the South Brunswick High School oratorical contest, the precursor to the countywide Odell and Virginia Williamson Oratorical Contest.
It was a difficult decision this year because all the students who participated were terrific, and they left me a little more hopeful about the future.
In the female division, Katy Manis talked about “How it Feels to be Boring Me.” It was a funny and well-written speech about how being a happy, normal person doesn’t attract much attention in today’s world, and how her younger, outgoing brother has always been the center of attention. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Teonna McCracken gave listeners a great lesson in sociological racial stereotypes with “White Girl Trapped in a Black Body.” She talked about it being unfair that other African-Americans talk about “acting white” when she and others like her work hard to achieve their goals.
Luzina Holden spoke about the all-too-common problem of child abuse and neglect and had plenty of unfortunate facts to back up her position, in her speech “Pressure in the System.”
Kelsey Mitchem used her struggle to find a speech topic as her speech topic, with “Writer’s Block.”
Lacy Levin, who won the female division, spoke from her heart about the death of her friend, with her speech, “If You Don’t Believe in Ghosts, You Won’t See Ghosts.”
She says she’s believed in ghosts ever since her friend died. His memory still haunts her and she believes it always will.
In the male division, Timothy Scott Moore won the competition with his speech on “Fourteen Years Without Depth Perception.” He infused lots of dry humor into a very informative speech about his life since a fateful event in day care when his friend shot a toy Batmobile into his right eye.
He’s had numerous surgeries and today has one brown eye and one blue eye and tries to live a normal life without depth perception.
The other two speakers were certainly no slouches, either. Jose Vera, whose family immigrated from Mexico and has lived in numerous states over the years, spoke about “Just Trying to Fit In: The Struggle for Acceptance of Immigrants in America.”
He talked about how his struggles to learn English and dealing with abusive classmates have made him a stronger person who has a drive to succeed. He even thanked his tormentors for strengthening his resolve. He talked about his love for his adopted homeland and gave the audience a personal glimpse into the controversial issue of immigration.
Russell Freeman talked about creating a paradise here on Earth by caring for the environment in his speech “Two Tickets to Paradise,” which he livened up by belting out a couple of lines from that song and by relating to the audience with humor. He might have a future as a comedian.
The two winners will compete against the two winners from the other two high schools for $2,500 scholarships.
Thanks, kids. You’re all high achievers and talented, entertaining speakers. I’m sure you will go far in whatever you choose to do.
sarah shew wilson is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email@example.com.