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Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Barge Canal Optimist Club of Lockport Oratorical Contestants, from left back: Jenna Behm and Victoria Haak. Front row: Olivia Hufnagel, Emmalene Benedict, Eva Conley, Zamora Garcia-Cacique and First Place Winner Jessica Oates. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)


Jessica Oates, a junior at Lockport High School, recently won the Barge Canal Optimist Club of Lockport’s oratorical contest based on the theme of “How My Best Brings Out the Best in Others.”

Jessica was awarded a first place medal and certificate for the honor. In addition, she will be sent to the zone level where she will compete against winners from other Optimist Clubs in the area. The winner of the zone competition will be sent to the New York New England District competition with the chance to win a scholarship, and then possibly on to the Optimist International Regional /World Championship for a chance to win an additional $5,000 or up to $15,000 scholarship.

“Jessica did a wonderful job presenting her speech about doing her best with a smile and encouraging others to do the same,” Club President Anita Tice said. “Jessica stated that 'Life is happiness and sadness’, how we deal with it is what can bring out the best in others.' The members of our Optimist Club have no doubt that Jessica has a bright future ahead of her.”

The Barge Canal Optimist Club sponsored the Oratorical Contest for the first time to allow the youth of our community the opportunity to speak out and earn a possible scholarship. “We were not disappointed,” chairman Peggy Allen stated.  “All seven participants, ranging in age from 7 to 17, did an excellent job and made it very difficult for our three judges to choose just one winner to move forward.”  Participants included Jenna Behm, Emmalene Benedict, Zamora Garcia-Cacique, Eva Conley, Victoria Haak, Olivia Hufnagel and Jessica Oates.  

The Barge Canal Optimist Club sponsors numerous programs and service projects throughout the Lockport community that are dedicated to bringing out the best in kids.  We certainly saw proof of that at our Oratorical Contest.    

Optimist International is one of the world’s largest service club organizations with 93,000 adult and youth members in 3,200 clubs in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean and throughout the world.  The Optimist Oratorical Contest is one of the organization’s most popular programs, with more than 2,000 clubs participating annually. Carrying the motto “Bringing Out the Best in Kids,” Optimists conduct positive service projects that reach more than six million young people each year.

To learn more about local the Barge Canal Optimist Club, please call Pauline Leacock, membership chairman at 438-0890 or visit the BCOC Facebook page.

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