The Sunday before midterms was a whirlwind for a variety of APUSH II students, as they made their way down to Rochelle Park to give a speech about the duties and obligations regarding one aspect of the Constitution. A total of six Leonia students attended, including Ethan Edelman, Ethan Zurich, Nikolas Diakolios, Clarissa van Sickell, Juliana Morello, and Theo Belci. Timing could not have been worse as the contest took place the day before midterm week, yet, the students of Leonia High School proved their worth when two students placed in the top three. Clarissa Van Sickell, with second place, and Theo Belci, with third place, both won money for their speeches and are invited to a event later in the year to accept their awards.
Highly stressful, LHS students all waited impatiently to speak for both parts of the competition. An intricate process, the event took place with two parts, one being a prepared oration and the other being a surprise pick from a list of assigned topics. Each contestant had to speak for 8-10 minutes without a script, about the duties and obligations of a certain part of the Constitution. After this, students would be given five minutes to prepare for a 3-5 minute speech on one out of four assigned topics including the Second and Third Amendments, The Fifteenth Amendment, and Section 2 Article 4 of the Constitution.
Most people did enjoy the experience as it helped with their public speaking skills. Nikolas Diakolios said it “gave me a sense of comradery with those who I participated with”. It gave the participants a better understanding of the “intricacies” of the Constitution. Learning quite a bit about the Constitution, the participants are now better equipped to speak about certain duties and obligations of American citizens.
According to Juliana Morello, the most difficult part of the process was memorizing the material and speaking in front of a crowd. About the contest, she said that “Memorizing what I was going to say and then speaking in front of judges, parents, and my peers was very difficult for me to do”. Diakolios also agreed that writing the speech itself and attempting to memorize was immensely stressing.
Despite its difficulty, both Diakolios and Morello agreed that they would want to do it again. Diakolios explained that he wants to “achieve a better score” compared to this year. Morello claimed that “It was scary, but afterward I realized I was able to complete it without any real challenges”.
In essence, the oratorical contest was a huge success for the LHS students because not only did two students place in the top three, but everyone received the Cullen stamp of approval.