DHH Students Inspire in Cobb Oratorical Contest

Simpson Middle School students perform at the annual Oratorical contest at Pine Mountain Middle School.

“No problem is too hard, not even gang violence, for optimism to make the American Dream an American reality for all people,” explained Jasmine Howell, Kennesaw Mountain High School sophomore.

“People have a choice on how they want to view the world. We can wake up and hate the world, or we can wake up and feel love and see the beauty life has to offer,” stated Taylor Nighbert, 5th grade, Tritt Elementary School

Those are some of the inspiring words from this year’s winners of the annual Oratorical Contest for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) students from across the Cobb County School District.

During the Pine Mountain Middle School event, the students shared “How to Change the World with Optimism.” 

The Cobb Optimist Oratorical Contest, sponsored by the Kennesaw Chapter of the Optimist Club, gives students the chance to speak to the world. More than $150,000 in college scholarships funded by the Optimist International Foundations is awarded annually from this program. 

This year’s Oratorical contest winners include:

  • Taylor Nighbert, Tritt Elementary School (Oral winner)Students%20participate%20in%202024%20Oratorical%20Contest-11.jpg
  • Chloe Parker, Kennesaw Mountain High School (Oral runner-up)
  • Jasmine Howell, Kennesaw Mountain High School (Signing winner)
  • D’Korien Ward Kennesaw Mountain High School (Signing runner-up)

Students shared their optimistic plans and goals.

In addition to wanting to challenge herself and spread good and positive thoughts to everyone, Pine Mountain student Britney Ezeobika wants to attend Harvard University.

“I might be hard of hearing, but I’m still brave, and strong, and very smart. The way I can get into Harvard University is studying hard, make sure I’m doing good in my academics, save up enough money, and mainly focusing on my goals in life,” explained the Pine Mountain sixth grader.

In addition to the motivating speeches, the DHH event also included student performances from Kennesaw Mountain High School’s and Simpson Middle School’s American Sign Language Clubs, Pine Mountain Middle School DHH students, and Campbell Middle School students. 

One of the students on stage led the introductions. Kennesaw Mountain senior Jeremiah Jackson-Gillihan is not only a prior participant but is also a past winner of the Oratorical Contest. After graduation, Jeremiah will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

Students%20participate%20in%202024%20Oratorical%20Contest-2.jpgJeremiah was not the only past winner in attendance. Cobb’s first Oratorical Contest winner was also present. Now Amber White teaches DHH students at Kennesaw Mountain and attends the annual event to help students just like her Cobb teachers helped her. 

Until next year, when a new group of DHH students take the stage to share inspiring insights, here are some words of wisdom from this year’s student contestants to carry you through the next 12 months. 

 “Being optimistic means to be hopeful and confident about the future. Even when problems seem too big to solve, optimism gives us the energy to try,” said fifth-grader Gabrielle Graham, Still Elementary School. 

“Optimism is the special kind of magic that you must believe you have. You are the superhero that someone may need. You are the shining light that can make the room brighter,” declared kindergartner Kai Sims, Nickajack Elementary School.