SAINT AUGUSTINE – Sheila Hodges, a senior at St. Johns Country Day School in Clay County, competed against five other First Coast area high school seniors to win first place and a $5,000 scholarship in the 2020 Rotary Oratory Competition.
Jack McKinney of Fletcher High School at Jacksonville Beach took second place, winning a $3,000 scholarship. The other finalists, who took home a $1,000 scholarship included Meagan Ocampo of Bartram Trail High School. Ocampo competed and won the St. Augustine Rotary Oratory Regional Competition held in January at Rotary Club of St. Augustine. Additional finalists included Carrisa Iszard of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, Jordan Brown of Paxon Senior High School, and Faith Nevin of Yulee High School. The Rotary Club of South Jacksonville has conducted the competition over the past six years. In that time, The South Jacksonville Club has awarded a total of $81,700 in scholarships and prizes.
This year’s speech topic asked students to select a well-known person from the past and explain how that person could use today’s technology to make an impact in today’s world. Hodges won the competition with her selection of Mr. Rogers, in which she sang the Mr. Rogers jingle.
The Rotary club invited seniors from the 45 public and private high schools in the five First Coast counties. Students from 25 area high schools participated. With the help of six area Rotary clubs, regionals were conducted to narrow the field of competitors to six participants.
The students were judged by a panel that included speech and communications professors from Edwards Waters College, Flagler College, Jacksonville University, Florida College at Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College.
Regional competitions were held at the Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise, the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, the Rotary Club of Orange Park, the Rotary Club of St. Augustine, the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville and the Rotary Club of West Jacksonville.
The event was emceed by WJXT-TV anchor Mary Baer and 1010XL radio personality Jack O’Brien and recorded at the WJCT-TV Studios for broadcasting in May. For more information on the Rotary speech project, contact Peggy Gachet, Rotary Club of St. Augustine’s President and Broker Associate with Watson Realty Corp. at 904.377.0832 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.