VERNON — Students at W.A. Wettel Elementary School on Friday celebrated the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with an oratorical competition including his speeches plus various other famous speeches, the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill school district said.
Organized by student council advisor Michelle Martin and supported by teacher John Protheroe, the competition required interested students to practice and perform influential speeches from our nation’s history to qualify.
Twenty students participated in a preliminary round last week, and 10 students from grades 3-6 advanced to an assembly competition Friday morning, the VVS district said. Participants read their selected speech excerpts in front of the student body and faculty, and were rated on their poise, speaking voice, eye contact, and other public speaking criteria. Throughout the assembly, student council officers Chase Mould, Lilly Albro, and Madeline Fox introduced the speakers and provided information on King’s life and achievements, the VVS district noted.
The competition winners included fifth-grader Nathan Meacham, first place for his engaging reading of an excerpt from King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” and fifth-grader Alyssa Lessels, second place for her passionate excerpt from the same speech, said the VVS district.
“I am so proud of them,” said Martin. “A lot of these speeches are written in a vocabulary and syntax that are very challenging, and the students rise to the occasion. Some of the students learn their speeches, others memorize them, but all of the students deliver them effectively. It shows their level of perseverance and willingness to take on a challenge.”
Wettel school Principal Vince Pompo said “the art of public speaking has declined over the years due to many factors....As a district, we think it’s an important skill to hone, and this competition gives our students an opportunity to develop this skill while celebrating a great man.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday, and VVS schools will be closed for the observance.
Martin closed the oratorical competition assembly by reminding students, “on Monday, when you are enjoying your day off from school, take a moment to remember the life of an amazing man.”