ALLENDALE, S.C. (The People's Sentinel) – On January 24th, eight Allendale-Fairfax Middle School students entered the final round of the school’s MLK Oratory Competition and the event was dubbed a “proud moment for Allendale County Schools” by district officials. Justin Joyner claimed first place and Jamarion Kirkland and Arian Williams won second and third places, respectively.
Students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades were tasked with writing an original speech expressing what they thought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might say if he were alive today. The students were coached to deliver their memorized speeches in front of an audience and a panel of judges. Initially, students auditioned at the classroom level and progressed to become finalists for the school-wide competition. The following students all competed as finalists: Dhailauna Taylor Maner (6th grade); Amiyah Fields, Eulyssa Gill, Xzavion Miller (7th grade); Leah Duncan (8th grade).
Audrey Patterson, a Literacy Coach for Allendale-Fairfax Middle and High School, coordinated the competition and felt it would aid in sharpening public speaking skills for the students which is crucial in many career paths today. “Ultimately, I wanted our students to find their voices and master how to use it to help make the world a better place,” Patterson said. “Teaching our students how to express themselves verbally helps our youth attain more success overall.”
All contestants received a trophy and certificate to commemorate the event: 3rd place received $25, 2nd place received $50 and 1st place received $100. Students who participated in the contest developed a sense of confidence and willingness to step outside of their comfort zones when needed. Now that this year’s competition is over, students are already excited about next year’s competition.
“My hope for next year’s MLK Oratory Competition is for us to reach and impact even more students. Hopefully we will attract neighboring communities to witness how Allendale County School District changing the headlines and moving Allendale forward one student at a time,” said Patterson.