Model Middle School eighth grader Sara Grace Abernathy beat out hundreds of other contestants to win the Optimist International GATEway District Oratorical Contest.
The district encompasses 82 clubs throughout Georgia and Eastern Tennessee. The annual worldwide contest is open to students who will be under the age of 19 by Oct. 1.
While representing the Rome Noon Optimist Club, Sara Grace placed first place in the district finals held in Tucker, Georgia, on April 24. She now advances to one of eight regional contests, where the winner will take home a $5,000 scholarship and move up the ladder to the world championship.
The theme for this year’s oratorical contest is “Healing the World with Optimism.” Students across the district competed first at club level and then in the district regionals.
This was the first time that the Rome Noon Optimist Club had both of its club contest winners make it to the district finals.
Model Middle eighth grader Natalie Long was a winner along with Sara Grace in the district regional contest that gave them two of the eight coveted spots in the GATEway District finals.
The regional contests and the world championship will be held virtually and live streamed on July 22 and 23. The top three winners of the world championship will win scholarships — $5,000 for third place, $10,000 for second place, and $15,000 for first place.
Since 1928, many students around the world have been introduced to the world of public speaking through the Optimist International Oratorical Contest. Nearly 2,000 clubs participate each year.
Officials said this year’s contest will show the world that, even in difficult times such as a global pandemic, Optimist Club members are continuing to serve youth.