International Essay Contest
The Optimist Essay Contest has existed for several years. It is
for youth under nineteen years of age as of December 31 of the current
school year and attending the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade. In this
contest kids put on paper their thoughts, intentions, purposes and
desires relative to a given topic which is selected each year by
Optimist International. Over 1000 clubs (approximately 24% of all
clubs) participate in this contest.
This contest is a true International endeavor. The district winners
(nearly 50) will be judged at that level.
• The essay must be in the student’s
own words and must acknowledge any quote or reference.
• It must be 400 to 500 words, typed, double-spaced with
title heading only.
• No reference to self, relatives or place of residence
(anything that would identify the writer) is
• The writer’s name, title of essay, number of words and school
must be on a title page separate from
the rest. The reason for this is so that no judge will recognize
• There are no other governing rules.
The kids may interpret the topic as they desire.
Prizes for this contest are:
DISTRICT LEVEL: A plaque and a $650.00 college scholarship
First Place: A $5000. scholarship, a plaque and an all-expense
paid trip to the International Convention for the student
Second Place: A $3000. scholarship and a plaque
Third Place: A $2000. scholarship and a plaque
The Evening Optimist Club, the Breakfast Optimist
Club and the Falls Cities Optimist Club of Jeffersonville all
share in this effort as a multi-club event. We are proud of this
youth program. Our entrants have done very well even to the district
Optimist International Oratorical
This youth program was initiated in 1928. Approximately 2000 clubs
(50% of all clubs) participate in this effort. The contest is
for youth under sixteen years of age—or one cannot become
sixteen before January 1 the year of the contest.
Originally, the contest was only for boys as
punctuated by the motto at that time, “Friend of the Boy”.
Since that time we have changed the motto to, “Friend of
Youth”, which eliminates discrimination.
In 1972, our district began having a girl’s
contest in addition to the boy’s. Our club began this on
our own and raised the scholarship money for the winning girl
within the district. The following year Optimist International
authorized a dual contest. So, we Hoosiers started the trend!
Now girls participate also in this motivating exercise in public
The Jeffersonville Evening Optimist Club has
had an Optimist Oratorical Contest every year since our charter
in 1952. The Breakfast Club and Falls Cities Optimist Club of
Jeffersonville have also
participated since their charter dates. We have had both boys
and girls contests since 1972, and have had winners at the zone
and district levels many times. Many of our contestants have gone
on to become leading citizens in many communities and we like
to think that a bit of their success can be traced to the public
speaking opportunity we initiated. We have been told this by many
of our kids.
• Participants cannot be older than sixteen
years of age.
• Speeches must be at least four minutes in length and no
longer than five minutes (without penalty).
• The topic will be chosen by Optimist International each
• There will be three non-Optimist judges.
• Winners at the local contest receive a medallion, winners at
the district level receive a plaque or
certificate and winners at the District level receive college or vocational school scholarships
$1500., $1000. and $500.
• No other rules apply to content other than those previously
stated. However, poise, adherence to
subject matter, delivery
and appeal are definite factors in judgment.