Our Youth

St. Francis Academy Wins Diocesan Competition

Finalists in the 2019 Sister Peggie Merritt Memorial Oratorical Contest. (Photo: Brooklyn Diocese Press Office)

The Tablet Staff

Mia Lopez, an eighth grader at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy in Astoria, Queens, is the first-place winner in the 2019 Sister Peggie Merritt Memorial Oratorical Contest. She presented Denzel Washington’s Fall Forward speech. The second-place winner was Olivia Gorski, a seventh grader at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy of Glendale who delivered Steve Carell’s Princeton University Class Day Remarks.

Kasmira Jeannot, an eight grader at Holy Family Catholic Academy in Fresh Meadows, who delivered Brittni Darras’ speech, The Fight Against Teen Suicide, was the third-place winner.

Eighteen students from Catholic schools and academies throughout Brooklyn and Queens competed in the annual public speaking contest held last week at Our Lady of Mercy in Forest Hills. Students presented speeches by notable people throughout history including Winston Churchill, Shirley Chisholm, former Presidents Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana and Steve Jobs. The speeches were on topics including eating disorders, teen suicide, gun control, civil rights, equal rights, and the March for Life.

For over 60 years, Sister Peggie was dedicated to elementary education and was the founder and coordinator of the Diocesan Oratorical Contest for many years. At the time of her death in 2006, the contest was renamed in her memory.