The 2016 winners of the school-level competition held Feb. 25, at Orangefield High School (Left to Right): Katy Swiere: 1st place, Declamation; Sable Reynolds: 2nd place, Declamation; Jeri Agee: 1st place, Interpretive Reading; Scarlett Neely: 2nd place, Interpretive Reading.

Orangefield High School students Katy Swiere and Jeri Agee earned first place in Declamation and Interpretive Reading, respectively, at the school-level finals of the 112th Miriam Lutcher Stark Contest in Reading and Declamation, a scholarship program sponsored by the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation.

On Thursday, Feb. 25, Orangefield High School students competed in the local-level contest, which was coordinated by Ron Chevalier, Orangefield High School teacher and school director for the Stark Reading Contest. Katy Swiere won first place in Declamation with A Left-Handed Commencement Speech by Ursula K. Le Guin, while Agee won first place in Interpretive Reading with her presentation of an excerpt from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Second place in Declamation went to Sable Reynolds, with Scarlett Neely receiving second-place honors in Interpretive Reading.

Chase Slaughter, Orangefield High School’s 2015 first place winner in Interpretive Reading, served as the emcee for the Orangefield competition. Ms. Deena VanPelt, Orangefield High School Assistant Principal, presented awards to the 2015-16 school-level contest winners.

Each second-place winner was awarded $1,500 in scholarships from the Stark Foundation, while the two first-place winners were awarded $2,000 in scholarships. The first-place winners from West Orange-Stark High School will go on to compete against the first-place winners from other participating Orange County public high schools at the County Final of the Stark Reading Contest, which is scheduled for Sunday, April 24, at 2:00 p.m. at the Lutcher Theater.

The Stark Reading Contest is sponsored by the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation as part of its continuing mission to enrich the quality of life in the Orange community and encourage education. The aim of the Contest is to enhance the literary and forensic quality and skills of Orange County public high school students. The Contest has continued annually since its inception in 1904, which makes the 2015-16 school year the 112th annual year of the Contest. In addition to offering educational opportunities and experiences for students at eligible Orange County public high schools, participating students may earn scholarship awards for continued education.