Third Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratory Competition
Friday, February 26, 2016
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Whittaker Elementary Student Xzavier Anthony Exhilarates the Crowd and Wins the MLK Oratory Competition

    When Xzavier Anthony, a fifth grade student at Whittaker Elementary School, was introduced at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratory Competition, the audience sensed that something special was about to happen. Dressed in a judge’s robe, Xzavier spoke with a confident and commanding voice that kept the audience engaged from the moment he stepped on stage. The link to the full text of Xzavier’s speech appears at the end of this article.
    The final round of the third annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratory Competition was held on the evening of January 28, 2016 at New Mount Zion Church in Orangeburg. The preliminary rounds of the MLK Oratory Competition began several months ago with competitions being conducted in each of the eight elementary schools in Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five (OCSD5). The preliminary competitions determined the school champions who would move on to compete as finalists in the districtwide competition. The competition was open to fourth and fifth grade students who were required to compose and present an original speech of up to five minutes on the topic: “What can I achieve in my lifetime because of what Dr. King achieved in his?”. The names of the students who qualified to participate in the final round of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratory Competition, along with the schools they attend, are:
 ·  Xzavier Anthony, Whittaker Elementary – First Place
 ·  Tamia Yarbrough, Rivelon Elementary – Second Place
 ·  Ammariah McCray, Brookdale Elementary – Third Place
 ·  Tamerria Felder, Bethune-Bowman Elementary – Finalist
 ·  Ny’lasia Hallinquest, Mellichamp Elementary – Finalist
 ·  Justin Simpson, Sheridan Elementary – Finalist
 ·  Syrenity Sims, Dover Elementary – Finalist
 ·  Sheridan Tucker-Staley, Marshall Elementary – Finalist
    While the finals of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratory Competition provided great inspiration and entertainment for the audience, its primary purpose was to provide fourth and fifth grade students with an opportunity to develop their skills in historical research, reading, writing, and public speaking in classrooms across the district.

    A variety of uplifting and inspirational musical entertainment was provided during the program by the Whittaker Elementary School Choral Ensemble, the North Middle/High School Band, and Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School senior Miss Sydney Murdaugh.   Matthew Frederick, the runner-up in the 2015 MLK Oratory Competition, provided welcoming remarks. The Mistress of Ceremonies was OCSD5 District Teacher of the Year Autumn Coulter. She was joined by S.C. Senator John W. Matthews who provided a special greeting and remarks to the students at the beginning of the program. Karen James and Dr. Derrick James served as the event coordinators.
    Five community leaders volunteered their time to serve as judges for the competition including: Candace Berry-Vaughn, co-founder of the consulting firm Berry-Vaughn Enterprises; Barry Charley, Principal of St. Matthews K-8 in the Calhoun County Public School District; the Honorable Derrick F. Dash, Chief Magistrate for Orangeburg County; Gwendolyn Phillips, Director of Grants Administration/TRIO Programs at Claflin University; and Zipporah Mapp Sumter, a local attorney and Professor at Claflin University.
    Once again, Jimmy Jones Toyota of Orangeburg was the corporate sponsor for the event. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsor, all of the final round participants received trophies and certificates recognizing their accomplishments and were treated to a special lunch on the day before the competition. In addition, the students finishing in the top three places received the following prizes: 1st Place – Microsoft Surface Tablet; 2nd Place – iPad Mini; 3rd Place – iPod Touch. OCSD5 appreciates the support that Jimmy Jones Toyota provides to our students and teachers. According to OCSD5 Superintendent Dr. Jesse Washington, “The relationship between Jimmy Jones Toyota and the MLK Oratory Competition is an example of the positive outcomes that are possible when the business community gets involved with our schools and our children. We are very grateful for the support that Mr. Jones has provided for our children and public education in our community."
Click HERE to read Xzavier Anthony's winning speech.