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MLK oratory competition focuses on civil rights, politics

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 12/21/2015, 10:35 a.m.
If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were a candidate for U.S. president, what would he be saying today on the ...
A few of the Gardere MLK Oratory Competition participants pose for a quick picture before the semifinal round of the contest, Dec. 8.

Special to The Dallas Examiner

If 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 recited their essays on the topic, Dec. 8, during the semifinals of the annual Gardere MLK Oratory Competition.

Gardere, sponsor of the annual competition for more than two decades, challenged the students to combine their knowledge of current events and their understanding of King’s life and work to craft their essays.

“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,” Gardere Board Chair Holland O’Neil said. “We are inspired each year by these students’ knowledge and passion for honoring his legacy.”

The students selected as winners of their in-school competitions recited their essays at semifinals held in Dallas ISD’s Ada Williams Auditorium at 3700 Ross Ave.

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.”

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.”

The winners from this round of competition will present their speeches at the finals on Jan. 15 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre, located at 1925 Elm St.