2024 George Washington Oratorical Contest

Written by Brother Billy Kozuh, Junior Deacon

On February 17th, Paradise Valley Silver Trowel was proud to uphold a cherished tradition that has spanned over 50 years: the George Washington Oratorical Contest. Originating in the Rosevelt School District, where Worshipful Brother Rob Reimer served as principal for an impressive 35 years, this contest has stood the test of time for 57 years. Initially, eager schoolchildren faced lengthy delays in competing across divisions from K-2, 3-6, and 7-8 due to the sheer volume of participants. To address this, K-2 competitions were held in the library, grades 3-6 in separate quarters, and grades 7-8 elsewhere. As participation expanded to include districts like Madison, Washington, and Paradise Valley, the logistical challenges intensified. To ease the burden, Worshipful Brother Rob Reimer ingeniously opened the doors of the Lodge to young presenters.

Mastering the art of public speaking is no small feat, even for adults. Each speech, lasting a minimum of three minutes and capped at five, is delivered entirely from memory, without the aid of notes or prompts. As Worshipful Brother Reimer aptly points out, “Effective communication is a lifelong skill. How many adults truly relish the prospect of addressing a room full of peers on a topic? It’s not innate, but it is invaluable, and some of these children are truly remarkable.”

The aim of the contest is for children to delve into the lives of prominent figures in American history: patriots, pioneers, individuals deserving of the title “hero.” Today’s presentations honored luminaries such as Katherine Johnson, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Theodore Roosevelt—who, notably, was a Mason!

Katherine Johnson

An American NASA mathematician whose calculations on orbital mechanics were critical to early US crewed spaceflights!

Amelia Earhart

American Aviation pioneer and writer, and the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

American lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1993 to 2020!

Theodore Roosevelt

American politician, statesmen, conservationist, naturalist, and writer and not to mention, the 26th President of the United States!

Joined Freemasonry in 1901.

Witnessing a young child confidently deliver a memorized speech with fervor and conviction is undeniably inspiring. I implore all Brothers to attend and experience firsthand this remarkable event in the future. This tradition, spanning 57 years, is deeply ingrained in our Lodge’s legacy. As Brothers, it’s incumbent upon us to unite and ensure not only the continuation but the expansion of this noble tradition. Let’s reach out to more districts, attracting both participants and spectators alike! The skill, talent, and passion displayed by these young individuals are worthy of celebration and encouragement.

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