Northwood students place first and second in oratory contest

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PITTSBORO — History repeated itself as Northwood High School students once again distinguished themselves in the annual Joseph S. Rumbaugh Oratory contest sponsored by the Sons of the American Revolution and its local General Francis Nash Chapter.

Northwood junior Lily Kate Witcher placed first with her original oration about John Hancock, building her story around his famous bold signature on the Declaration of Independence. She spoke about Hancock’s courage, its significance and what each person should think about in placing his or her own signature to a document, petition or letter today.

Northwood student Gio Cacciato won second place with his oratory, “The Story of Lucy Knox,” a narrative about the risks of commitment, personal sacrifice and support for a cause to one’s family and fortune.

“I support Rumbaugh Oratory to give the gift of confidence in public speaking,” said local and state Rumbaugh chairman Lowell Hoffman.

The competition took place at Governors Club on Saturday, March 19. Orators presented their composed and memorized speeches between five and six minutes before an audience of 45. Each participant could develop a topic of their choice on any aspect of the American Revolution.

“As we are entering a decade of commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of our country, this competition and participation of high school students carries particular significance,” said General Francis Nash Chapter President Albert Segars, a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler business school.

In winning the competition, Witcher earned $250 and will now compete for the North Carolina championship. If successful, she will receive a medal and $750, as well as advance to national competition.

Both students thanked Northwood speech teacher Jill Jackl for her support while deciding whether to compete, and while they developed their speech content and delivery. They also named Northwood student Riley Shaner as an inspiration. Shaner won the Nash Chapter and State Rumbaugh contests and went on to place second at the 2019 SAR National Oratory Contest in Costa Mesa, California.

National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history and teaching American history to future generations. The General Francis Nash Chapter honors the commander of North Carolina’s regiments who served under General George Washington in 1777 at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, where a British cannonball mortally wounded Nash. The Chapter includes a number of Chatham County residents, including Chris Palmer who served as a member of the panel of judges for the event.


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