Lower School’s First Women’s History Oratory Contest

“We took the time to get to know and learn about amazing women who changed the world for the better.”

Amina D. ’30
Amina D. ’30 took home the Grand Prize

Finalists in the first Lower School Women’s History Oratory Contest shared the moving words of Maya Angelou, Sojourner Truth, Emily Dickinson, and Misty Copeland during their presentations at a virtual Community Time Assembly on April 1. At the assembly, First Place winners in each grade, as well as an overall Grand Prize winner, were announced.


Grade 4 student Amina D. ’30, won the Grand Prize with her dramatic recitation of abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?,” a speech that was originally delivered at an 1851 Women’s Rights Convention. When asked about why she chose Truth’s speech, Amina said, “I wanted to do something different, so I knew she was the one. I had talked to my mom and she loved my idea.” Her parents were delighted saying, “Amina is such a bright light. She will do amazing things. She recreated Sojourner Truth’s style and wit. We are so proud of her.”

In welcoming students to the Assembly, Head of Lower School Dr. Francis Yasharian P’36 said that what was most important about the contest was that, “We took the time to get to know and learn about amazing women who changed the world for the better.”

“I’m incredibly proud of Amina and the Grade 4 finalists! I was so encouraged by their enthusiasm, and what it means for us to celebrate Women’s History Month with this oratory contest. The speeches were so inspiring, and I loved to see the hard work the girls put into them. Amina did an incredible job embodying the spirit of Sojourner Truth’s words.”

Aiyana Parker, Grade 4 Head Teacher

Among the presentations were a quote from Audrey Hepburn about helping hands, Maya Angelou’s “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me at All,” and “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver, which asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” One student shared Kenyan activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai’s story “The Hummingbird.” Women who persevered were the focus of an excerpt from ballerina Misty Copeland’s book about dealing with criticism and Sojourner Truth’s moving speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”

How We Got to the Final Presentations

In February, Lower School launched the contest to “celebrate women’s voices and contributions to our society.” Students were invited to memorize and recite a poem or published work by or about a female author, scientist, politician, artist, or other noteworthy figure. 

Entries were recorded in a single take, uploaded, and then reviewed in March. On March 8, Dr. Yasharian shared the results of the first round of the Women’s History Oratory Contest. “It was a highly competitive process with a number of spectacular entries making the judges’ job difficult,” he said. 

Finalists were selected for each grade and their recitations were recorded live at school in the Hulbert Room the week after Spring Break. Students were judged by how the message of the selection supported the contest theme; clarity of student’s diction; student’s posture, body language, tone, and volume; and the student’s facial expressions, eye contact, overall presence, and delivery. First Place winners in each grade were to receive ribbons. Grand Prize was $100 in the form of a gift certificate to a local bookstore.

Congratulations to the Finalists!

Maya S. ’35
Maya S. ’35
Audrey W. ’35
Audrey W. ’35

Pre-Kindergarten Finalists
Maya S. ’35 (tie)
Audrey W. ’35 (tie)

Kindergarten (no entries)

Sirena A. ’33
Sirena A. ’33

Grade 1 Finalists
Sirena A. ’33 (First Prize)
Dashiell L. ’33 (Runnerup)
Kennedy T. ’33 (Runnerup)
Louisa W. ’33 (Runnerup)

Samantha F. ’32
Samantha F. ’32

Grade 2 Finalists
Samantha F. ’32 (First Prize)
Kiora J. ’32 (Runnerup)
Neil S. ’32 (Runnerup)
Charlie S. ’32 (Runnerup)

Henry K. ’31
Henry K. ’31

Grade 3 Finalists
Henry K. ’31 (First Prize)
Sloane M. ’31 (Runnerup)
Gisu R.’31 (Runnerup)
Ella R. ’31 (Runnerup)

Amina D. ’30
Amina D. ’30
Nina R. ’30

Grade 4 Finalists
Amina D. ’30 (Grand Prize)
Natalie P. ’30 (Runnerup)
Nina R. ’30 (First Prize)
Adelaide T. ’30 (Runnerup)