FORTVILLE — Two students at Mt. Vernon High School will head to a regional competition after winning the annual Optimist Oratorical Contest conducted March 1 at the high school.

Lauren Pilkington and Hunter Louk took first places in the girls and boys categories, respectively, with Haidyn Caulwell taking second and Madelyn Hayes placing third.

The Mt Vernon Optimist Club’s 2018 Oratorical Contest was centered on the theme “Where are my Roots of Optimism?”

First-place winners in the public speaking contest will proceed to a regional competition. Indiana regional winners may advance to zone contests and to the Optimist International Northern Indiana District contest. At the International Regional and Finals, the winner could accumulate about $22,500 in scholarships. The Optimist International Oratorical World Championships will be June 28 and 29 in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Optimist International is a volunteer organization working to bring out the best in kids through a number of programs, including essay and public speaking contests, a campaign raising awareness for childhood cancer and youth and internet safety programs.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or