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Delta’s annual MLK Oratorical contest produces winners

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Norman Jones III, a senior at Stonewall Jackson High School took home first place in Prince William County Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Oratorical Contest for the third consecutive year. Jones a passionate and posed speaker has also spoken before the Department of Justice and the Prince William County School Board.

At the middle school level, first place was awarded to Abdullah Usufzai, a 7th grader at Ronald Reagan Middle School.

This year’s theme was “What the World Needs Now”. Speakers were judged on content and originality; delivery and body actions; and language, voice and diction. The judges, however, had difficult decisions to make because the speakers encouraged compassion, courage, confidence, love and understanding. Often interrupted with standing applause, each speaker challenged the audience of more than 2,000 to have compassion for each other, and take action on issues that they feel strongly about.

The 2017 MLK Oratorical Competition Results:

Best Before the Audience (MLK Program, Monday, January 16)
High School – Norman Jones III, Stonewall Jackson High School
Middle School – Abdullah Usufzai, Ronald Reagan Middle School

Best Before the Judges (based on their performance at the regional judging on January 9)
High School – Norman Jones III, Stonewall Jackson HS
Middle School – Jennine Faruque, Stonewall Middle School

Judges’ Choice/Honorable Mention (select at regional judging and announced at MLK Program)
High School – Beverly Sackey, Brentsville High School
Middle School – Claire Lord, Marstellar Middle School

Additionally, the Prince William Deltas conducted an elementary school writing contest based on the same “What the World Needs Now” theme.

Elementary School Writing Contest Winners:
4th Grade
1st Place- Sophia Ibanez -Jennie Dean Elementary
2nd Place- Adalyn Wood – Victory Elementary

5th Grade
1st Place- Makenna Howell – Porter Traditional School
2 nd Place-Sahiti Shadtri – Mountain View Elementary

This oratorical program in its 26th year has inspired and afforded opportunities to many of its past speakers. For example, in addition to Norman Jones, last year’s middle school winner, Zorree Jones spoke at the Department of Justice. Fox5News Reporter, Tisha Lewis is also a past contestant.

A recent email from the mother of a past contestant credited the King Oratorical Competition with her son’s career choice. Her son, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is now a professor of African-American history at the University of Florida and author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, a 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction winner.

These anecdotal stories show that the sorority’s program helps Prince William County area students in critical thinking, writing and speaking that they can use in other endeavors. 

Prince William County Board Supervisor John D. Jenkins, Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly, Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation, Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park School systems and numerous community organizations have been long-time supporters of the program.

An important supporter came on board this year, Suntrust Bank. Muriel Garr, Vice President and Community Development Manager for SunTrust Bank, facilitated the financial support for SunTrust. She was instrumental in encouraging other businesses to financially support this impactful program. She also extended a surprise $5,000 matching donation challenge to the audience during the program. For every dollar that the audience donated SunTrust matched up to $5,000.

This additional support helped the sorority to increase the awards it provided to the students that were selected to represent their schools. An important supporter came on board this year, Suntrust Bank. Muriel Garr, Vice President and Community Development Manager for SunTrust Bank, facilitated the financial support for SunTrust. She was instrumental in encouraging other businesses to financially support this impactful program.

She also extended a surprise $5,000 matching donation challenge to the audience during the program. For every dollar that the audience donated SunTrust matched up to $5,000. This additional support helped the sorority to increase the awards it provided to the students that were selected to represent their schools.

The oratorical program was punctuated with performances by the MLK Youth Community Choir, directed by Michael Coleman. He has been directing the choir for over 7 years. The choir sang his rendition of “What the World Needs Now”. The audience was also wowed by the Manassas Park High School Drumline. The program ended with the choir and audience singing “Happy Birthday Martin” and “We Shall Overcome”.

The Prince William County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a sisterhood of college-educated women, actively engaged in programs of public service. This commitment is demonstrated by 32 years of service and sponsoring a myriad of community service projects for the public good. For more information please visit us a www.pwcacdst.org.

For more information please visit us a pwcacdst.org.

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