Students to tackle Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest

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Date: April 7, 2014
Contact: Mindi Rambo, 212-668-2208

NEW YORK – Most people would rather be shot than give a speech to an audience full of strangers. Theodore Roosevelt managed to do both in a single day.

Roosevelt passionately believed in the importance of speaking persuasively to an audience and he proved it on Oct. 14, 1912. He had been traveling in an open car to a campaign stop in Milwaukee when he was approached by a man who shot and wounded him. After delivering his would-be assassin to the police, Roosevelt declined to be treated and instead gave a 90-minute speech to his supporters before exiting the stage and submitting to treatment for his wound. 

In that spirit, if not those conditions, nine high school students will come to Federal Hall National Memorial on April 10 for the finals of the Theodore Roosevelt ® Public Speaking Contest, which is organized annually by the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA). Students come from Abraham Lincoln HS, HS of American Studies, Bronx HS of Science, Forest Hills HS, Fort Hamilton HS and Franklin D. Roosevelt HS. 

"The National Park Service is pleased to host this annual speech contest at Federal Hall this year," said Shirley McKinney, Superintendent of Federal Hall National Memorial and Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. "Holding the competition at this temporary location allows us to do important upgrades at Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace. We congratulate every student participating in the finals. Your dedication and hard work is very much in the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt." 

Each student will face a panel of judges and an audience of their coaches and peers while giving his or her 5-minute speech on an individually chosen aspect of Roosevelt's life. The panel will consist of:

  • Joshua Laird, commissioner, National Parks of New York Harbor
  • Hon. Michael Corriero, retired judge, now director of the NY Center for Juvenile Justice 
  • Hon. Patricia E. Henry, Supreme Court, Kings County, Integrated Domestic Violence Part
  • Hon. Melissa Jackson, Supreme Court, New York County, Criminal Term
  • Hon. Valerie Pels, Family Court Judge of Bronx Family Court
  • Hon. Llinet M. Rosado, Family Court Judge of Bronx Family Court
  • Two members of the Theodore Roosevelt Association 

 Each student's speech will be evaluated on the following criteria: quality of the speech presentation, student delivery qualities, and the level of the student's preparation. Accuracy of facts, demonstrated mastery of topic, effective communication of ideas, proper use of voice and articulation, and originality all are important.

  • The first place finisher will receive a $5,000 TRA scholarship ($2,000 Check to winner followed by scholarship of $1,000 each year for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year of full time matriculation in a degree program at an accredited college or university), the second place finisher a $1,000 TRA scholarship and the third place finisher will get a $500 TRA scholarship;
  • Theodore Roosevelt® Public Speaking Contest commemorative medals for all finalists;
  • Sculptured bust of Theodore Roosevelt by Gleb Derujinski to the First Prize Winner and to the school of the First Prize Winner 

"The Theodore Roosevelt® Public Speaking Contest for the New York City public high schools dates from 1925. The TRA New York City Public Speaking Contest is one the TRA's leading civic programs all of which promote the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt," said Laurence Pels, Executive Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. "The Theodore Roosevelt® Public Speaking Contest is designed to encourage students to develop public speaking skills, such as organization and communicating ideas; developing critical thinking; performing independent research; and gaining an understanding of the interrelationship of various disciplines. Public speaking skills enable students to enhance their academic potential and scholarship, and build confidence, self-reliance, social awareness and leadership ability, all of which will help them to achieve success in further education, business and professional pursuits." 

If You Go 
Theodore Roosevelt Association NYC Public Speaking Contest Finals (Nine original speeches performed by NYC high school students)
When: April 10, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
Where:  Federal Hall National Memorial, 26 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005 

About Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, lived at this site from his birth on October 27, 1858 until he was 14 years old. The reconstructed house contains five period rooms, two museum galleries and a bookstore. Roosevelt's original birthplace was demolished in 1916. After his death in 1919, the site was purchased by the Women's Roosevelt Memorial Association, rebuilt and decorated with many of its original furnishings by Roosevelt's sisters and wife. 

About The Theodore Roosevelt Association
The Theodore Roosevelt Association is a historical and public service organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory and ideals of Theodore Roosevelt. While looking back at Roosevelt's life, times, and legacy, we have our sights on the future through programs that recognize brave and gifted individuals, inspire public service, bring comfort to sick children and develop tomorrow's leaders.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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