2021 Oratorical and Essay Competitions

Are you an aspiring author? Or perhaps enjoy public speaking?

The Optimist Club of Waterloo North is looking for local students to participate in our annual Essay Contest and/or Oratorical Contest for the 2020-21 school year.

Students in our area are being invited to showcase their writing and/or public speaking skills in our upcoming virtual events to be held in early 2021.

Contestants will participate in a club-level contest and local winners move on to compete at higher levels where scholarships are awarded to winners. Up to $25,000 in scholarships are available within Optimist International.

Topics for this year’s contests are below. Click on the contest buttons for more details and application forms.

“Healing the World with Optimism”

“Reaching your Dreams by Choosing Optimism”

Bike Rodeo – Social Distancing Edition

Due to COVID-19, our annual bike rodeo was cancelled for 2020. However, in the interest of bike safety for youngsters (as well as having a little fun), the Optimist Club of Waterloo North has decided to share the set up instruction we use when hosting our Bike Rodeo in the parking lot at Christ Lutheran Church in Waterloo.

Participants of our past rodeos know that before you begin, you need a helmet (which fits properly) and your bike needs to be in good running condition. So before you begin, please check out the Young Cyclist’s Guide from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). The guide has information on bicycle equipment, riding tips and the rules of the road to keep you safe.

Are you ready? Is your helmet fitting properly? Have you ABC Quick Check’d your bike? (If you don’t know what this means, see section 3. before you go: check your bike in the Young Cyclist’s Guide.)

Download the instructions we use for the activities at our Bike Rodeo. Adapt each of the activities to use the space and materials you have available to you. Remember to stay safe with whatever you decide to do.

Additional cycling and bike safety resources:

We are pleased that McPhail’s Cycle & Sport in Waterloo has been an ongoing partner in our Bike Rodeo and has checked and tuned many of our young participants bikes over the years. As an essential business they have been busy keeping cyclists going. We are happy to share the checklist they use when getting bikes ready for their customers. You may find this useful if you want to do a more complete tuning of your bike.


Photos from a previous Bike Rodeo

2020 Club Contest Medalists

At our February club meeting this week, we wrapped up our 2019-2020 Essay and Oratorical contests. Essay contestants wrote on the topic “Is Optimism the Key to Achieving the Dreams you iMagine?” while the Oratorical contestants spoke for five minutes on the topic “Just iMagine a World without Boundaries.”

We applaud all competing students for their creativity and hard work. The winning Essay moves on to compete at the Midwestern Ontario District. The first and second place finishers in the Oratorical Contest participate in the Zone 7 (Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge) contest where two speakers will be chosen to compete at the District contest in May. (Scholarships are awarded at the District level and Oratorical Contest winners can move on to compete for additional scholarships regionally and internationally.)

Thank you to the principals, teachers, judges and parents for supporting these talented youth.

2019-2020 Contests Announced

Want to showcase your writing skills? Or your public speaking skills? Consider participating in one or both of our annual contests this school year. With some exceptions, you are welcome to participate every year — an excellent way to practice and develop your skills in a supportive, risk-free environment.

Contestants participate in a club-level contest and winners move on to compete at higher levels where scholarships are awarded to winners. (Click on links below for more details.)

“Is Optimism the Key to Achieving the Dreams you iMagine?”

“Just iMagine a World without Boundaries.”

We look forward to reading your essay or listening to your speech!

A Life Changing Experience

I was fortunate to be selected to represent my school at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference, also known as HOBY.  If I could describe my experience in a few words, it would be inspiring, life changing, and incredibly fun. From the moment I arrived I was attacked with good vibes and lots of spirit.  Throughout the three days we did team building activities, community projects, had a dance, a talent show, and listened to some amazing motivational speakers. 

I left the seminar with many new friends, an inspired mind, and a determination to get involved in my school. My experience at HOBY has encouraged me to do things that without it, I may not have done. It left me feeling empowered and able to do anything.  It left me brave enough to apply for student council, which is now one of my favourite aspects of grade eleven. It’s taught me a lot about being a leader in life and at school. 

I’m so thankful to the Optimist Club for sponsoring HOBY.  It has touch the lives of so many people and has a rippling effect that continues to benefit communities long after the event.  It is unlike any other leadership program out there. The way I live my life would be very different if I hadn’t had this opportunity, and all the other HOBY alumni will tell you the same.  Please continue to sponsor this amazing event and inspire more and more students. Thank you, thank you, for investing in today’s youth, and tomorrow’s leaders. 

A HOBY 2017 participant (from Waterloo Region)


Click here for more information about HOBY.