Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
Ten students from five Orange County high schools participated in the annual Stark Reading and Declamation contest on Sunday, but it was two students from Orangefield who came out on top.
The Orange County Finals of the 108th Miriam Lutcher Stark Contest in Reading and Declamation was held Sunday afternoon inside the Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts in downtown Orange as 10 students representing five area high schools - West Orange-Stark, Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Orangefield, Bridge City and Vidor - competed for scholarships.
Haley Permenter and Kirsten Wolfford, both of Orangefield High School, claimed the top spots in Declamation and Interpretive Reading, respectively. Each student was awarded a $5,000 scholarship to the university of their choice and a plaque.
Permenter’s speech was “Declaration of Conscience” by Margaret Chase Smith was thought-provoking for the audience, while Wolfford’s reading of “The Singing Lesson” by Katherine Mansfield was most impressive and entertaining.
The second place winner in Declamation was Julian VanDevender of Vidor High School, who read President Ronald Reagan’s address to the nation following the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The second place winner in Interpretive Reading was Adrian Morgan, who delivered a mesmerizing reading of “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.
VanDevender and Morgan each received a scholarship for $2,500.
Other participants in Declamation included Brittney Perry, West Orange-Stark; Jordan Smith, Bridge City; and Zoe Casteel, Little Cypress-Mauriceville. The remaining contestants in Interpretive Reading were Paige Pollard, West Orange-Stark; Ivy Casteel, Little Cypress-Mauriceville; and Kinnedy Mitchell, Vidor.
Each of the 10 participants at Sunday’s event also received a gold watch from the Stark Foundation, a tradition which has spanned the 108 year history of the event. Each participant has already received a $1,500 or $2,000 scholarship for placing first or second at their respective school’s contest prior to the finals on Sunday.
More than 120 students from the five area high schools participated in this year’s Stark Reading and Declamation contests. More than $500,000 in scholarships have been awarded by the Stark Foundation to high school students since 1976.