On March 21, nearly 300 students and 120 members of the community gathered at Scarsdale Middle School to participate in the 31st Annual Scarsdale Middle School Speech Contest. The contest is the culminating activity in an integrated public speaking unit that students encounter in their 7th and 8th grade English classes. In the month of March, every student in these classes works on a speech in one of five categories that they later deliver in class. These students may then choose to enter the annual Speech Contest. All students who wish to are allowed to participate, and after they deliver their speeches, they receive feedback in the form of scores and written comments from a panel of judges. The contest has two initial rounds, requiring students to deliver their speech to two different sets of judges, who give each one a score. From these scores, five finalists in each of the categories are determined, and these students then give their speech one last time. These five speeches are ranked, and at the end of the evening, these ranking are announced.
As part of the speech unit, students select from one of five categories:
Dramatic Interpretation: Here the student performs a memorized recitation and analysis of a scene from a play, book, or short story;
Poetic Interpretation: Here the student performs memorized recitation and analysis of a poem/poems:
Personal Experience: Here the student presents an original story about an important experience in his/her life. The story should not only be unique but also have affected the student in a significant way, and the experience should reveal some universal truth about life that members of the audience could recognize in their own lives;
Original Oratory: This is an informative, persuasive speech written by the speaker about a specific topic or problem that is current, interesting, controversial, and important.
Humor: Here the student creates a funny and original (perhaps narrative) presentation on a topic that everyone can laugh about. The topic and humor may not be offensive or in bad taste.
You can view the finalists giving their speeches at the Winner's Assembly on the Scarsdale's school's website here: When you hear their polished oratory you'll be surprised that these students are only in middle school.
Here is a list of the winner's provided by David Wixted:
First Place: Keshav Rastogi
Second Place: Sydney Kula
Third Place: (tied) Cindy Gao, Lauren Singer
Runner-Up Anna Rubin
First Place: Jacob Stiel
Second Place: Mishtii Murari
Third Place: Natalie Rosier
Runners-Up: Ashley Granieri, Gabriela Schott
First Place: Zack Gelles
Second Place: Courtney DeLong
Third Place: Ryan Lee
Runners-Up: Jack Esposito, Axel Ahdritz
First Place: Jillian Mehlman
Second Place: Alexandra Fogel
Third Place: Sabeen Khan
Runners-Up: Rhea Kothari, Christie Du
First Place: Hayley Meisel
Second Place: Halle Brody
Third Place: Zachary Brenner
Runners-Up: Amy Bochner, Annie Cohen
Congratulations to all the participants and thanks to the 100 parents who volunteered to judge the contest.