Two students from Miami Lakes Middle School tested their speech and debate skills for a chance to win a college scholarship.
Among eight competitors in the annual Optimist International South Florida District Oratorical Contest on June 14, Anabelle Calles, who was then a MLMS seventh grader, finished third.
Calles won a $1,000 scholarship from Optimist International which she will receive when she enrolls in college, said Jim Hamilton, a longtime member of the board of the local Miami Lakes Optimist Club.
Rebecca Guerra, who was also in the school’s seventh grade at the time, finished after the top three winners who were chosen by a panel of judges.
The contest pitted middle school students against high school kids.
The theme was “Just Imagine a World Without Boundaries.”
“They did real well, considering they went up against high school students,” said Hamilton. “The Miami Lakes Optimist Club is proud of them.”
Optimist International is the umbrella organization for the local club and other such programs in South Florida, Hamilton said.
During a May debate competition that was a qualifier for the June contest, Rebecca and Anabelle represented the local club and finished first and second, respectively.
Rebecca won a $100 gift card and Anabelle’s gift card was worth $75.
Rebecca’s mother Gretel Guerra teaches language arts at MLMS.
She helped recruit students and prepared them to compete in both contests, Hamilton said.
The educator shared tips about speech writing and how to debate in a Zoom meeting with the competitors.
“With all the critical thinking and analysis that goes into it, they did well,” Guerra said.