Winning with optimism

Two speech and debate students place at region, one advances to district


Speech and Debate members display their awards at the Optimist Club Oratorical Zone Speech Contest on Saturday, March 23. Courtesy of Liana Massengale.

In the Optimist Club Oratorical Zone Speech Contest on Saturday, March 23 senior Bridget Gilmore placed fourth and senior Uk Mang placed first. Mang will advance to the district level competition held in Stephenville on Saturday, May 4. Students had to write a speech answering the prompt “Is there a fine line between optimism and reality?”

“We brainstorm about ideas and they get their speech written,” speech and debate teacher Sally Squibb said. “We listen to it [and] if it’s not powerful enough [or] doesn’t have a high degree of emotion that will move the judges to vote for them, then we’ll revise it again. It’s just practice [and] I’m very happy they saw it through and they have been successful at it.”

The writing process began several weeks before the contest and took consistent editing for it to be complete. The speeches are scored based on content, organization and overall presentation. Gilmore finds Uk’s speech to be inspirational and hopes for him to advance to internationals because she believes he deserves it.

“In class [we’d] repeat [our speech] over and over again and then [we’d] perform it in front of people,” Gilmore said. “Both of us have put a lot of time and energy into performing our speeches and so I think it paid off really nicely and our performances were amazing.”

Since being in speech and debate, Mang believes he has improved at public speaking. He wishes to keep improving his tone by practicing with Squibb and Gilmore on his speech to prepare for district.

“It was really nice but I didn’t feel that happy yet because I still have [district and internationals] to go,” Mang said. “If I win and I go to the internationals, it’ll mean I’ll get $22,000 in scholarships and [that] means a lot. Ms. Squibb really bugged me about [my speech]. She wanted me to memorize it [and] say it a certain way so I could become a better speaker and I could actually win this.”

Speech teacher Liana Massengale believes what helps Mang stand out and succeed is his work ethic and determination to improve. So far, she has seen him achieve a boost of confidence while improving his speech.

“[Uk] wants to do well, he’s willing to work hard, he listens to suggestions and takes criticism really well and will change just to make himself better,” Massengale said. “I think if he continues to do well as he has and just make everybody understand his story, I believe he can win.”