Oratorical contest features four THS students
Twelve high school juniors and seniors will participate in the Martin Luther King Social Action Committee’s oratorical contest set to begin at 6:30 p.m. today at Richfork Baptist Church.
The Rev. Dr. George Jackson believes the oration of students from Davidson County, and a handful from outside the area, is the coronation of Thomasville's King Week.
"The oratorical contest is the main event of the entire celebration," said Jackson, the founder and chairman of the Martin Luther King Social Action Committee. "It is our way to continue Dr. King's legacy of oration and public speaking, and we try to pass on to this generation the uniqueness of the experience of public speaking. We really push the oratorical contest, because these are the people who will be running the country."
Among those future leaders, four students from Thomasville High School will compete to win one of eight scholarships — including a $2,000 scholarship awarded to the one who finishes in first place.
Wendy Alvarado, Lawrence Phillips, Joshua Johnson and Deja Young will represent the Chair City after committing to the contest at the behest of Karen Harris, a guidance counselor at THS. Phillips, Johnson and Young are first-time participants who are passionate about what they say has become a lost art among their colleagues.
"My father is a pastor, and I've spoken and performed in front of large crowds," Phillips. "I feel like our generation today needs to speak out on different topics, so I thought this would be perfect."
Johnson, also the son of a preacher, said growing up around oration and taking part in public speaking himself was great practice for an opportunity to earn money for college.
Young said she is prepared to deliver a speech she hopes will inspire her peers.
"Although I may not be a preacher’s kid,” Young said, smiling, “I’m just a very outgoing person. I want to be a teacher, so hopefully this is going to prepare me with skills I could use later on in life.
“Our generation has gotten lazy and we have to reaffirm our appreciation that no one is going to hand us anything," Young said. "You have to go out and get it yourself."
Last year, Alvarado, who emigrated from El Salvador, placed second and received the J. Ray Butler scholarship.
THS students will compete with four students from Lexington High School, as well as students from Davidson County Community Early College, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Chester, S.C.
The evening also includes an awards banquet. Vickie McKiver and Freddie Gaither Jr. will be given the MLK Community Service Awards.
Tickets, which include dinner, are available for $30 per person. Proceeds go toward scholarships for students in Davidson County.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or at firstname.lastname@example.org