Heathwood Upper School students swept the top awards at the 2016 Optimist International Oratorical Competition, held April 16 at the University of South Carolina. All three Heathwood students who participated in the competition were recognized: Senior Mary Royall Wilgis won first place in the female category, while Sophomore Justice Hill and Freshman William Scouten won first place and first runner up respectively in the male category.
“Mary Royall, Justice, and William all did impressive work with very minimal input from me or any of their other teachers,” says Upper School Head George Scouten, who was the faculty sponsor for the event. “Each of them wrote strong speeches and had impressive delivery.”
Mary Royall and Justice both won $500 and will now advance to the statewide competition, slated for Saturday, May 7th, beginning at 10:00 A.M. at the McGregor Presbyterian Church, 6505 St. Andrews Road, Columbia, SC 29212, where they will have the opportunity to compete for $2500 scholarships.
The Optimist International Oratorical Competition gives students the chance to speak to the world and awards more than $150,000 in college scholarships annually. Participants submit a speech on a pre-assigned topic to their local Optimist club and then compete to advance. They are scored across a wide range of categories, including poise, speech content, delivery and presentation, and overall effectiveness.
“I, personally, am very proud of the students from Heathwood,” says Dr. Lois Duke Whitaker, who coordinated the competition. “And I’m very appreciative of Dr. George Scouten, who has been so supportive of this project from the beginning. I cannot express my appreciation for all he has done in that regard.”