March 7, 2024—

Hartland Optimist Club held its annual Optimist Oratorical contest on March 6. There were 12 students that prepared a speech based on this year’s topic, as determined by Optimist International, “How to Change the World with Optimism” and presented it to 3 judges, plus an audience of their peers, teachers, and families.

The winners of the Hartland Club Contest this year are: 1st place, Nick Yegge; 2nd place, Tily VanderMeulen; 3rd place, Lea Schmanski. All three are students at Hartland’s Ore Creek Middle School. Other contestants were: Lilah Brodbeck, Jenna Brown, Blake Davis, Tim Eddy, Isabella Gembel, Mallory Hartman, Kennedy Kretz, Alex Rizzo, and Amelia Salinas.

Club contest organizer, Stefanie Furge, applauded all of the contestants, “This year’s topic lent itself to each speaker’s perspective on the power of optimism in their daily lives. Each speech was well-written and presented, and it wasn’t an easy task for the judges this year. The club is proud to host this event each year as it promotes personal growth, thoughtful deliberation, and an opportunity for students to see themselves as part of our community.”

The contest is designed for youth to gain experience in public speaking and provide them with the opportunity to compete for a college scholarship. More than $150,000 in college scholarships funded by the Optimist International Foundation is awarded annually from this program. At the Club level, the top 3 winners receive Gold, Silver, and Bronze medallions, with first and second place advancing to the area competition held Saturday, April 6. The winner there will continue to the statewide competition Saturday, May 4 and culminating in the world championship contest held in July in St. Louis, Missouri.