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 28 during the school’s weekly Community Meeting. Six 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. The contest opened with Hindley Wang’s timely speech on the rise of fake news and ‘alternative facts’ in the new media landscape. She argued that an honest press is vital to a healthy democracy and encouraged the audience to demand reliable information. The second speaker, Haley Graves, gave an inspirational speech about personal growth and overcoming obstacles during her transition from middle school to high school. Next, drawing on passages from Hamlet, Aaron Gonzalez delivered a stirring speech that sought to define courage as reflective restraint rather than impulsive action. His call for more reasoned reflection in an age of rising tensions resonated with the audience.
After a musical interlude by the Lincoln Academy wind ensemble, Phoebe Pugh resumed the contest with a moving speech about food insecurity. Connecting her topic to larger issues of widening income inequality and decreased social mobility, she made a convincing case that food insecurity should be understood as a fundamental human right. Will Monti followed Phoebe’s performance by focusing on another human rights issue: the future of water distribution. In his concluding remarks, Will encouraged the audience to view his topic through the lens of human rights. The contest concluded with Jupiter Solorzano’s prize-winning speech about deriving strength from family, coping with adversity, and finding redemption.
Judges for this year’s contest were Nick Azzaretti, Computer Technological Director at Lincoln Academy; Dr. Denise Soucy, parent and local physician; Gary Stone, parent of a Lincoln Academy alum and Vice President and Portfolio Manager at First Advisors; Dr. Robert Breckenridge, teacher. Azzaretti, a veteran judge of the event, stated that this year was not only the strongest group of speeches he had ever seen at the event but also the most difficult to judge. In the end, Jupiter Solorzano took first place, Hindley Wang, Phoebe Pugh, and Will Monti tied for second place, and Aaron Gonzalez finished third.