The Optimist Club of Calgary sponsors two scholarship contests for high school students with a chance to earn post-secondary scholarship — the Essay Contest and the Oratorical Contest.

The contests are sponsored by Optimist International to give young people room to develop their own views around a central idea.  In addition to the opportunity for written or oral expression, participants have the chance to win  college, university or trade school scholarships!

The contests are open to students under age 19 as of October 1st 2020 and not enrolled as a degree/diploma seeking student of a post-secondary institution.

Optimist Club of Calgary Essay Contest

Students will research and write a 700 to 800 word essay on an OI selected topic and submit it to the Optimist Club of Calgary by the club submission deadline. Each entry will be acknowledged as received. There are prizes in the form of medals and cash awards of $100, $75 and $50 for the first three places in the club contest. The best essay is forwarded to the District competition for the $2,500 scholarship.
Before writing the essay, students must complete and submit an entry form. There is a limitation of 15 places in the contest; this is the reason it is important to enter as soon as possible. If our club cannot accept your entry, you may be referred to other clubs in the Calgary area which also hold Optimist Essay Contests.

Optimist Club of Calgary Oratorical Contest

Students will research, write and present a four to five minute speech on an OI selected topicThere is a limit of ten entrants in the contest. The contest is held on a Saturday, in mid-March. The specific date, time and location are announced each year.

Ten entries have been accepted on a first-come basis so no additional entries will be accepted for the 2019 Oratorical Contest.

An Entry Form must be submitted. Each entry will be acknowledged as received. There are prizes in the form of medals and cash awards of $100, $75 and $50 for the first three places in the Club contest.

The two best speakers from the Club contest will move forward towards the District competition. There might be intermediate Alberta contests in late March or April prior to the District Contest. Our Optimist District competition will take place in May. Three scholarships will be awarded to the first three place winners of the District contest: $2500, $1500 and $1000, respectively. Over the past several years, four winners from our Club contests have won District Oratorical scholarships.

The winner of the District Oratorical Contest will get to compete in the Optimist Regional Contest. Our Optimist Region is the Great Falls Region — which encompasses Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, Northern Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan.

The winner of the Regional contest will be awarded an additional $5000 scholarship and get to compete in the Optimist Oratorical World Championships Contest. That Contest awards additional scholarships of $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 to the top three speakers.

In the 2016 – 2017, Ye-Jean Park, a Grade 10 student at Webber Academy in Calgary, who entered her first contest with the Optimist Club of Calgary, won the District and Regional contests and came in third in the World Championships, winning a total of $12,500 in scholarships.

Thank-You Letters 

“My name is Ye-Jean Park, and I have been a contestant in the Optimist Oratorical Contests. I am currently a Grade 10 student going into Grade 11 at Webber Academy, and I would like to share my sincere gratitude and appreciation to you all for helping with such amazing opportunities as the Optimist Oratorical Contests. It has truly been such an encouraging and helpful experience for me and many others to participate in the contests, and to reflect on what the world can gain from optimism. Seeing youths all around the world share their ideas on what the world gains from optimism to working with such brilliant and kind people in the Optimist clubs have been such inspirations for me. It has been a privilege to be able to challenge myself and learn so much more in the oratorical contests, and I have been so fortunate as to have been able to learn from and collaborate with the members of the Optimist clubs and organization. For the future, I have always hoped to study medicine and become a doctor, all while bringing more positivity and hope to my patients and to those I meet. I definitely believe that this experience will contribute greatly towards this vision, and I know it will continue to help future participants and youths towards their goals as well. I hope that in the future, I will also have the opportunity to become more involved with the Optimist Clubs and organizations, and I thank all the members for opening this door to many youths, to the community, and to me. Those who are too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble help the world gain so much more hopefulness and optimism. Thank you for being those leaders willing to bring a positive vision and optimism to youths and to communities. Without the help of all of you, none of these events would have been possible and I would like to thank you for this as well. It has truly been such an enriching experience, and thank you for being a part of this optimist journey! Thank you very much once again, and have a great day!  Sincerely, Ye-Jean Park”

“On behalf of Webber Academy, I would like to thank the Optimist Club of Calgary for organizing the Oratorical Contest providing a valuable learning opportunity to the students. I was very impressed by the excellent organization of the contest at all levels. The involvement and positive support of Bob Steele was instrumental to the success of our student Ye-Jean Park, and we very much appreciated his efforts. Our sincere “thank you” to everyone involved in this great program. Kind Regards, Kasla Noworyta-Fridman Webber Academy Speech Coach”

Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Students who are certified to have a hearing loss of 40 decibels or more may compete in this contest designed to help them develop the skills and confidence to present in sign or orally to an audience.
Scholarship Amount Up to $2500.00