Cauble wins Optimist oratorical contest

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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On Monday, the Optimist Club of LaGrange hosted its annual oratorical contest, a program that the local club has hosted for many years.

Students were asked to write and orate a four to five-minute speech on the theme: “Finding the Optimism in Me.”

The annual contest is open to all students in Troup County from elementary through high school. This year’s contest featured particularly young winners from Hillside Montessori School.

The 2023 top prize went to 11-year-old Sophie Cauble, who said she gets her optimism from her family and books.

“My maternal grandmother was a special education teacher. She taught the dropout prevention program working with high schools for at least two grades. Many of them have learning disabilities or behavioral problems,” Cauble said. “Most people thought these kids had no chance of graduating, but my grandmother believed in them and made them all feel like there was something special within them.”

“My paternal grandmother was also a teacher. She taught kids from kindergarten to third grade. Teaching letters and numbers between temper tantrums required an optimistic attitude,” Cauble said, saying she also worked with kids with learning disabilities.

Cauble will now advance from the local club-level competition to the zone competition where she has an opportunity to earn a scholarship at the district competition.

After taking home the first-place medallion, Cauble said she is looking forward to competing at the higher levels. Unlike most people her age, she said she enjoys public speaking.

“I’ve always loved writing papers and I like presenting them a lot,” Cauble said. “I’ve always been interested in public speaking.”

Katt Martin, 12, was the runner-up in the contest. Martin also attends Hillside Montessori.

Martin said she entered the contest to help her become a better speaker and for the chance to earn a scholarship.

“We set goals for ourselves in our classroom. I wanted the opportunity to allow myself to get better at speaking. I’m probably the worst person in my class to give presentations,” Martin said, explaining that the practice would help her improve.”

“I was also motivated by the scholarship. That’s going to motivate me to do it every year,” she said.

Even great speakers don’t always win their first time, said Club President Ralph Howard.

Howard said that many years ago, when former Mayor Jim Thornton was in school, he entered the oratory contest but he didn’t win his first time.  Thornton later came back after improving his oratory skills and took home the top prize, Howard said.

More than $150,000 in college scholarships are awarded annually by Optimist International.