Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Stark Reading Contest County Final Winners

The Board of Directors and administrative staff of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation congratulate the winners of the 2021 County Finals of the 117th Miriam Lutcher Stark Contest in Reading and Declamation. On Sunday, April 25, 2021, students who had previously won first place at the various local level competitions held at each of the five Orange County public high schools competed in the categories of Declamation and Interpretive Reading at the County Finals held at the Lutcher Theater. This year's Contest had adjustments due to COVID-19, so the Contestants were recorded on stage and separate judging took place on Saturday, May 1. 


There was a historic tie in the category of Declamation, with Orangefield High School's Mary Wernig and Bridge City High School's Tuyen Le both winning 1st place, while Alicia Odom of West Orange – Stark High School won 1st place in Interpretive Reading. Each of the students received a $5,000 scholarship for their 1st place awards. For Declamation, Wernig presented the "Commencement Speech to UTK" by Dolly Parton and Le performed "Liberty or Death" by Patrick Henry. Odom's reading was "The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde.


2nd place in Declamation went to Jonathan Roy of Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School for his delivery of "A Statement to the Court" by Eugene V. Debs. Bridge City High School's Emily Haynes took 2nd place in Interpretive Reading with her reading from Hedda Nussbaum's Surviving Intimate Terrorism. Each second-place winner received a $2,500 scholarship. Additionally, plaques will be delivered this week to first and second-place winners.


Clyde V. McKee III, Stark Foundation President and CEO, presented all County Final contestants with commemorative watches, which is a long-held tradition of the Stark Reading Contest.


More than 100 students participated in the school levels of this year's Stark Reading Contest, which is sponsored by the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation. "I want to congratulate the county winners, all local level winners, and all finalists for their outstanding accomplishments, especially considering the challenges of this last year" said Stark Reading Contest Coordinator, Hannah Danielson. All participants, from the school preliminaries to the County Final, should be applauded for their hard work and effort. The time and work of the local school directors help make this contest possible.

We would also like to recognize all winners from the 2021 Local Level Contests. Each 1st place winner received a $2,000 scholarship and a chance to compete in the County Final, while each 2nd place winner was awarded a $1,500 scholarship.


Vidor High School:

Ashton Sauberon – 1st Place in Declamation

Savannah Young – 2nd Place in Declamation

Ella Bunting – 1st Place in Interpretive Reading

Haley Nelson – 2nd Place in Interpretive Reading


Little Cypress – Mauriceville High School:

Jonathan Roy – 1st Place in Declamation

McKenzie Freeman – 2nd Place in Declamation

Kori Rushing – 1st Place in Interpretive Reading

Rylea Tipton – 2nd Place in Interpretive Reading


Orangefield High School:

Mary Wernig – 1st Place in Declamation

Kaitlyn Jenkins – 2nd Place in Declamation

Hadley Psencik – 1st Place in Interpretive Reading

Brianna Moore – 2nd Place in Interpretive Reading


West Orange – Stark High School:

Lance Parks – 1st Place in Declamation

Naomi James – 2nd Place in Declamation

Alicia Odom – 1st Place in Interpretive Reading

Rayne Keith – 2nd Place in Interpretive Reading


Bridge City High School:

Tuyen Le – 1st Place in Declamation

Raven Hankins – 2nd Place in Declamation

Waverlee Cooper – 1st in Interpretive Reading

Emily Haynes – 2nd in Intepretive Reading


The Miriam Lutcher Stark Contest in Reading and Declamation is sponsored by the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation as part of its continuing mission to enrich the community and encourage education. The aim of the Stark Reading Contest is to enhance the literary and forensic quality and skills of the students. The Contest has continued annually since its inception in 1904 and offers educational opportunities and experiences for students at Orange County public high schools. 

About the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation

The Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation is a private operating foundation established in 1961 to encourage and assist education and to improve and enrich the quality of life in Southeast Texas.

The Stark Foundation seeks to continue the legacy of its founders through the programs of the Stark Museum of Art, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, The W.H. Stark House, and the Frances Ann Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts, as well as through the Miriam Lutcher Stark Contest in Reading and Declamation, a qualified scholarship program for public high school students in Orange County, Texas. These venues, programs and activities provide the community and region with rich resources and opportunities for study and enjoyment of the arts, nature, history, and culture as well as literary endeavors.


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