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News Briefs 2.24.22 | Plant City Observer

Plant City Optimist Club hosts oratorical contest; Local Plant City teen takes third place in Elks state hoop shoot competition

Plant City Optimist Club hosts oratorical contest

First conducted by Optimist International in 1928, the organization’s oratorical contest is the longest running and second-most popular Optimist International program, with over 2,000 clubs participating each year.

Three local students participated in the annual Plant City Optimist Club Oratorical Contest on Monday, Feb. 21.

Along this year’s theme of, “Staying Optimistic in Challenging Times,” the students presented their four to five minute orations in front of an audience that included family, friends, guests, club members and contest judges. The orations were then judged on several criteria including poise, content of speech, delivery and presentation and overall effectiveness.


1st Place: Ava Skolnick (Plant City High School)

2nd Place: Marley Mueller (Tomlin Middle School)

3rd Place: Kyleigh Elliot (Plant City High School)

“It is difficult for these young people to stand before an audience and give their speeches,” Optimist Club President Mike Williamson said in a press release. “The competition helps them improve their public speaking skills which will benefit them in college and beyond”

For their first and second place finishes at the Club level, Skolnick and Mueller will advance to the Zone 6 Competition against the top two finishers from Lakeland and Winter Haven’s competitions on March 7. The top two from the Zone competition will then earn their spot in the North Florida District’s Southwest Regional Contest for the Tampa Bay Area on April 9.

Both Zone and Regional competitions will be hosted by the Plant City Optimist Club at the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center, 1601 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Regional winners will then advance to the North Florida District Finals in Jacksonville on April 30 where a $2,500 college scholarship will be awarded to the District Champion, a $1,500 scholarship for the second place and a $1,000 scholarship for the third place. The higher scoring District Champion will be eligible to attend the 7th Annual World Championships in St. Louis, Mo. in July to represent the North Florida District.

A Plant City Optimist Club representative has won the North Florida District finals and received the top scholarship nine times since 2001.

Local Plant City teen takes third place in Elks state hoop shoot competition

After advancing through the local, district and state regional round, Plant City’s Marlee Kraus advanced to the Florida state finals for the Elks Lodge National Hoop Shoot competition.

Krous’ journey began in Plant City in October before moving on to Lake Placid, Fla. for the district round. After winning yet again, she moved on to the state regional round in Sanford and earned the top spot in her age group with 14 made free throws in 25 attempts, clicking her chance to compete at the state finals in Umatilla last weekend.

In a competition that began with thousands of participants in her age group, Kraus ultimately earned a third place finish at states.


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