Three students participated in the Fairbury Optimist Club’s annual oratorical contest on Sunday, speaking about “What the World Gains from Optimism.”
The participants all are students at Thayer Central Public Schools. Adam Lukert took first place in the boys division, while Megan Lukert took first in the girls division, followed by Mickael Halverstadt as runner-up. All three students have the opportunity to participate in the state contest in April.
Shaun Friedrichsen, chairperson for the event, explained that the oratorical contest has a long history in Fairbury, and is glad to see that people are showing interest in the event.
“We had three students travel from Thayer County to compete in the contest, which was great to see,” said Friedrichsen. “They all did a wonderful job of showing how optimism can truly change the world. We’ve hosted the oratorical contest for quite a few years, and the community interest and support is truly what keeps this event going strong.”
This year, Deb Umland, Media Paraprofessional at Jefferson Intermediate, Lana Likens, Director of Public Relations at Jefferson Community Health & Life, and Debbie Aden, Director of the Fairbury Public Library judged the contest. Friedrichsen is grateful for their time.
“This event is all about helping kids to achieve the very best in life by encouraging them to work hard and give their best efforts,” Friedrichsen said. “Along with that, we see a lot of community involvement, with people giving their time to help the young people who participated to improve their public speaking abilities. We couldn’t have this event without their time and effort, so I am very thankful that they agreed to help us with the oratorical contest this year.”
Friedrichsen hopes to see more young people participate in the contest next year. He believes events like these truly hit at the heart of what the Optimist Club does.
“In today’s world activities that aren’t related to sports tend to be overlooked, but they are just as important,” Friedrichsen said. “I participated in the oratorical contest when I was at Fairbury Jr./Sr. High School, and it really helped me to develop into the person I am today. Events like these are important, and I want to continue recognizing all of the hard work these young people do. The goal of the Optimist Club is to bring out the best in kids, and we see that with the events that we host. We want to keep bringing out the best in kids because they can change the world.”