Queens students sweep top prizes in Diocese of Brooklyn’s annual public speaking contest

Mia Lopez Sister Peggy Contest
Photos courtesy of the Diocese of Brooklyn

Three Queens Catholic school students took home the top prizes in a public speaking competition hosted by the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Eighteen students from across Queens and Brooklyn gathered at Our Lady of Mercy in Forest Hills to participate in the 2019 Sister Peggie Merritt Memorial Oratorical Contest.

The students presented speeches delivered by notable people throughout history including Winston Churchill, Shirley Chisholm, former Presidents Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana and Steve Jobs. The orations covered a variety of topics including eating disorders, teen suicide, gun control, civil rights, equal rights and the March for Life.

Taking first place in the contest was Mia Lopez, an eighth-grade student at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy in Astoria. She delivered Denzel Washington’s “Fall Forward” speech to win the contest.

Olivia Gorski, a seventh-grade student at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Glendale, presented Steve Carell’s “Princeton University Class Day Remarks,” which helped her claim the second-place prize. In third place was Kasmira Jeannot, an eighth-grade student at Holy Family Catholic Academy in Fresh Meadows, who delivered Brittni Darras’ speech, “The Fight Against Teen Suicide.”

According to the Diocese, Sister Peggie was dedicated to elementary education for over 60 years. She originally founded and coordinated the contest, and upon her death in 2016 the contest was renamed in her honor.

The 18 contest finalists from schools throughout Brooklyn and Queens.