The annual Achorn Prize Speaking Contest, a long tradition at Lincoln Academy since Edward Achorn endowed the contest in memory of his mother, Mary Rundlett Achorn, took place at Friday April 29 during the school’s weekly Community Meeting. Three students delivered original oratories judged on language and delivery, organization and preparation, and content.
This year’s contest was remarkable for the diversity of topics. Samantha Burke opened with an emotional speech on “body-shaming.” Her concluding plea “to learn to love yourself” and her ardent wish “to see a better world where people are not judged by body type” resonated with the audience. Elise Dumont spoke of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old peace activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 for protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes. She questioned the United States’ annual commitment of billions of dollars in military aid to Israel. Her concluding plea, “I want to see a better world where people actually care about one another,” drew loud applause. Alejandro Ramos delivered the final oratory on meritocracy, the concept that anyone can succeed on his own merit. Citing Arthur Schopenhauer, John Nash, and Seneca–”Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”– he ended with the idea that success should not preclude compassion for those “down on their luck.”
Judges for this year’s contest were Nick Azzaretti, Computer Technological Director at Lincoln Academy; Pam Gormley, Trustee at LA and Director of Skidompha Library; Peter Drum, an alumnus and Attorney at Law at Parson and Drum; Ben Frey, alumnus, Newcastle selectman, and owner of Homeport Supply. Azzaretti stated, “Judges had a difficult time choosing winners, since each speech was excellent in its own way.” In the end, Elise Dumont took first place ($350), Alejandro Ramos, second place ($250), and Samantha Burke, third ($150).