CUMMING – Four young orators will represent Forsyth County in the 2018 Optimist International Oratorical Contest.   They were the winners in the county-wide competition that began with students from throughout the county. The top two girls and top two boys move on to compete in the zone competition.  The local event is sponsored by the Sawnee-Cumming and Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Clubs.

Winning the county competition were Shreya Mishra, in eighth grade at South Forsyth Middle School; Kate O’Rourke, eighth grader at Pinecrest Middle; Arnav Hande, seventh grader at South Forsyth Middle; and Arnav Rao, a sophomore at South Forsyth High School.  They each won $500 awards. Winners in the zone competition move on to the area, then district (Georgia and eastern Tennessee) contests. Winners at the district level receive $2,500 college scholarships.

The competition is open to sixth through 12th-grade students from all Forsyth middle and high schools.  A separate competition in Forsyth County allows fifth-grade students to gain experience. Speeches cover a variety of subjects.  This year the students spoke on “Where Are My Roots of Optimism?”

The Oratorical contest is the longest running Optimist program, established in 1928, according to Gene Valde, oratorical committee chair of the Sawnee-Cumming club.  “We had over 4,800 students participating in the Forsyth County competition,” she said. “Our local competition is the largest in the Optimist organization.  And for the last two years, a Forsyth student has advanced to the regional finals in St. Louis – we expect no less this year!  Our heartfelt thanks to the school coordinators, principals, and parents for their support of these remarkable students!”