The Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold is encouraging area students to speak their minds about the topic What the World Gains From Optimism as part of the Optimist International Oratorical Contest for the 2016-2017 year.

The Optimist Club will judge the local students speeches based on content and presentation to determine the top two winners.  Winners will each receive $500.00 scholarships and the first place student will compete at the Zone level and possibly the District level for the opportunity to win college scholarships.  Winners of the District level will win $2,500 and will be eligible to compete in a regional competition in St. Louis Missouri at Saint Louis University.  Winners of the regional contests will win $5,000 and compete in the World Championship also held at Saint Louis University.  At the world competition 1st  place winner gets $15,000, 2nd place $10,000 and 3rd place $5,000.  Students could possibly win up to $22,500 or more in scholarships!

The 2016 winner, Antoinette Gyles, a junior @ Manalapan High School, went on to the next level of competition last year and took a third.  Last years topic was How My Best Brings Out the Best in Others.  There were ten entries and all the judges were impressed with the quality and caliber of entries.  As one judge stated Judging was really hard … they were all good.

The contest is open to students under the age of 18 as of October 1, 2016.

As they prepare for their future, many of our local students need experience expressing their thoughts and opinions to an audience, Club President Sherry Scaramozzo said.  The Oratorical Contest challenges them to do just that and also offers an opportunity for scholarships. In this way,

our club hopes to bring out the best in each of them and help them achieve their goals for the future.

The deadline to hand in speeches is March 20, 2017.  Students wishing to participate in the oratorical contest can find out more about the contest at or by contacting the club through Bill Woodard at 732-446-9782 ( or Sylvia Allen at 732-946-2711 (

The Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold has been participating in the Optimist Oratorical Contest for many years and has been active in the community since 1985.  The Club has been involved with and supportive of many programs and services to the youth in our communities.  Two of the more notable accomplishments were the creation of Camp Quality of New Jersey, a camp for children with cancer and the Club was instrumental in the establishment of what was back then the Freehold Area Hospitals (now CentraState) Health Awareness Center.  The Clubs main area of contribution was the Drug Awareness Program and TAM (a totally anatomical model of the human body).  The Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold meets every Friday morning @ 7 am at Perkins Restaurant, 3445 Route 9, Freehold, NJ.

Optimist International is one of the worlds 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 organizations 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 Optimist International, please call (800) 500-8130 or visit the organizations website at