Young orators to have their say in semifinals of MLK oratory competition

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+MLK OratoryIf Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were a candidate for U.S. president, what would he be saying today on the campaign trail? It’s an intriguing topic and one that a number of Dallas ISD fourth- and fifth-graders have recently given a lot of thought. Students from 15 district campuses will recite their essays on the topic at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the semifinals of the annual Gardere MLK Oratory Competition.

Dallas law firm Gardere, sponsor of the annual competition, challenged the students to combine their knowledge of current events and their understanding of Dr. King’s life and work to craft their essays. On Tuesday, the students selected as winners of their in-school competitions will recite their essays at semifinals to be held in Dallas ISD’s Ada Williams Auditorium at 3700 Ross Ave.

Gardere Board Chair Holland O’Neil explains why the firm has sponsored the competition for more than two decades.

“Gardere is proud to partner with Dallas ISD to not only encourage the writing and oratory skills of elementary school students, but to also celebrate Dr. King’s message of equality with the Dallas community,” O’Neil said. “We are inspired each year by these students’ knowledge and passion for honoring his legacy.”

Passionate certainly describes participant Guadalupe Zamora, the fifth-grader selected to represent Arcadia Park Elementary in Tuesday’s competition. Assistant Principal Maria Castillo said Guadalupe impressed her teachers and the judges with her knowledge, passion and self-confidence as she addressed the thorny issue of immigration.

“She gave us goosebumps,” Castillo said. “It was great to see all of our competitors go out, watch the news and learn about what’s going on. They really took their speeches to heart and worked hard on them.”

At Urban Park Elementary, Campus Instructional Coach Romikianta Sneed said student Adrian Ojeda is looking forward to the competition with great anticipation and has even been heard reciting his speech in gym class, in the cafeteria and walking down the school hallway.

Sneed said the competition has been a great learning experience for Urban Park students.

“Speaking is one of the most important skills to be developed and enhanced as a means of effective communication,” she said. “This competition has allowed our scholars to step outside of their comfort zone and be able to express their feelings about real-world situations.”

The winners from this round of competition will present their speeches at the finals at 11 a.m. Friday, January 15, 2016, at the Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas.

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