On May 18, 2019 the Adelaide L. Sanford Institute (ASI) held its Thirteenth Annual Oratory Contest at Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant. It allows students to explore the power of language and provides them with an opportunity to continue the legacy of their rich oral tradition. The annual contest serves as a forum for students at the elementary, middle and high school levels to develop presentation skills, poise, self-confidence and a positive competitive spirit. Participating students memorize the famous speeches of noted national and world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, President Barack Obama, Frances Foster, Shirley Chisholm, Mary Church Terrell, etc. In the process, they acquire knowledge of life-changing benchmarks in the history of the nation and world.
All participating schools identify coaches that are assigned to work with the contestants. At the conclusion of the year’s instructional program, a competition is held at the school level. School winners then compete in the ASI contest. Each school is represented by the school winner and runner-up. Judges evaluate each contestant on memorization, delivery, gestures, facial expression, clarity, fluency, tempo, poise, eye contact and volume.
This year students from twenty schools competed for first, second and third-place trophies in two divisions. All students received trophies and certificates of participation.
The 2019 winners included: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DIVISION – First Place: Daniella Aimofua, PS 627, Second Place: Keishly Hernandez, PS 81 and Third Place: Zeeyana Carter, PS 21; MIDDLE SCHOOL DIVISION – First Place: Niguel Miranda, MS 308, Second Place: Emmanuella Kayode, Medgar Evers Prep and Third Place: Carliee Schassler, MS 35.
HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION – The Jane L. Green Truth to Power Award was given for the first time to high school students for community service that promotes social justice. Jane L. Green was a Bedford-Stuyvesant grassroots activist whose passionate voice was a major force in shaping anti-poverty programs and community self-empowerment for four decades in Brooklyn. One female and one male high school student were the winners. Rushell Jonas: The Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance and Kawan Gibson: The Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance.
Thanks to all contest coordinators, school coaches, judges, students and parents for their hard work, commitment and support.
Dr. Christopher Smith, Director Adelaide L. Sanford Institute