Oratorical Contest

2023 Oratorical Contest

The Optimist International Oratorical Contest has become the longest-running program of Optimist International since its inception in 1928. The contest is designed for young people to gain experience in public speaking and provide them with an opportunity to compete for multiple college scholarships with a pre-assigned topic. Contact oratorical@oakridgeoptimists.ca for information.

Topic: TBA in late 2022

Who: Youth under the age of 19 as of October 1, 2022 (and not enrolled as a degree seeking student of a post-secondary institution) in the United States, Canada or the Caribbean. There is no minimum age.

When: TBA

Download a poster with all the information from 2022.

How To Enter: Contact Optimist Archie Wright at oratorical@oakridgeoptimists.ca for more information. Download your application form here. Click here to see the background sheet with the rules and lots of other information.

Past Oratorical Contests


The topic for the 2021-2022 school year was, Staying Optimistic in Challenging Times”. The competition took place on Zoom and included four contestants.

The names starting in the top left to right and then down each level in the same order are: Luciana Tudor Speaker D, Rick Gillespie Zoom Host, Kevin Levesque Technical Assistant, Joe O’Neill Intermission speaker, Carol Rachuk Judge 1, Maryam Al-Sabawi Speaker A, Sara Tamer El-Laham Speaker C, Charlie Appleton Speaker B, Kerby Waud Judge 2, Archie Wright Chair and Emcee, Lisa Waud Judge 3, and Gary Shawyer Timer.

The first place speaker, Maryam, and second place speaker, Charlie, will go on to the Zone 9 contest on April 7, 2022 along with the top two speakers from the London East and London Nor’West Optimist Clubs.


Topic: The topic for the 2020-2021 school year is "Healing the world with Optimism".

Who: Students under the age of 19 after October 1, 2020

When: Saturday, March 27, 2021 beginning at 9:30 am by Zoom. The zone contest will be held on April 10th at 9:00 am on Zoom. The District contest will be held by Zoom on May 8th.

Result: Six secondary school aged young women participated in the contest and the top two, Maryam Al Sabawi and Jiarui Fan, went on to compete at the Zone level on April 4th, where they gave their speeches along with Candence Lankin and Emily Peacock who had placed at the top of the Nor'West Optimist Club's contest. Maryam Al Sabawi and Candence Lankin came out of that contest in the number one and two positions and went on to the District contest on May 8th. Candence Lankin finished first out of a field of ten speakers from around the District. She went on to compete at the Regional contest in July. Congratulations to all of the speakers who participated.


The contest was cancelled this year due to the emergence of COVID early in the year and the significant restrictions that followed.


Is there a fine line between Optimism and Reality? That was the question our seven Oratorical contestants addressed in their speeches at out club's annual public speaking event on April 6th at the Byron Public Library. All seven delivered well thought out speeches to a crowd of families, teachers, friends and Optimists. Our judges selected Sophia Smith from St. Nicholas School as our first place winner. Second place was awarded to Taylor Helwig from Northridge Public School while Matthew Landis from St. Nicholas finished third. Oratorical Chair Don Lucas congratulated all of them for their speeches. Both Sophia and Taylor competed in the Zone Oratorical contest on April 13th where Taylor finished second. She advances to compete at the Midwestern Ontario District Oratorical contest in May.