He sways nervously as he stands in front of the judges. They stare at him blankly, waiting for him to deliver his speech. The room is quiet, the still type of quiet that makes everyone nervous. He opens his mouth and begins to state the words that will soon get him a step closer to his future.
Corban Sorrells, a junior, recently competed at the state level of the Sons of the American Revolution Oratory Contest. He got first place and received $2,500 in scholarship money and a free trip to Boston, Massachusetts this summer to compete in nationals.
“I’m very excited,” Sorrells said. “I really want to get as many scholarships and put myself in the best position that I can before heading into college.”
Sorrells spoke about Patrick Henry, who is the father of modern oratory.
“Writing speeches is really difficult, especially speeches that don’t have as much as a natural connection,” Rory McKenzie, speech and debate teacher, said. “This speech was very historical. I think it was good for him to get to look at his passion as far as history is concerned. He was able to apply a lot of his own personal connections with his football playing and the concussion he suffered from last fall.”
The contest is about remembering the Revolutionary War, documents, important figures and events and finding a way to apply that to today. It is a practice to get students to learn from history.
“We had to watch his speech and critique him,” Emily Fry said. “We basically just had to write him notes about how we thought he could improve. We told him that he needed to slow down, emphasize, and stop swaying when he was speaking.”
Sorrells received scholarships at every level of the competition. The further he advances, the more money he gets for college. He wrote this speech last year, but just recently perfected it with the help of his teachers and his peers.
“We’re at a time in our season where we’ve got multiple things coming up, and it’s very hard to stay on top of it,” McKenzie said. “Corban did a great job, wrote a good speech, and just continued to work, work, work. I’m just really proud of him.”