Crane Wins District Oratorical Contest, Sets Sights on World Championship Weekend


District Oratorical Contest competitors

Like many students her age, Madison Central School senior Olivia Crane didn’t consider herself to be big on public speaking growing up. With one courageous leap into the arena of competition and two years of experience to draw upon, it’s safe to say that reputation has changed. On Saturday, April 27th, Crane advanced in the Optimist International Oratorical Contest by taking first place at the New York/New England District Championships held in New Hartford.

Her victory ensures her a spot in the regional round at the Optimist International Oratorical Contest World Championship weekend to be held from July 17th to 19th in St. Louis, Missouri. This will be Madison’s first-ever representative at that event since the Madison Optimist Club was founded in 1998. Her win also secured $2,500 in scholarship money, which she will use to pursue study in the Health Science program at Mohawk Valley Community College in the Fall. WIth her education, she hopes to become a Registered Nurse.

For Crane, it’s the latest triumph on a fulfilling personal journey that began last year. In 2023, she advanced out of the Madison contest as the runner-up, refined her speech to win the Zone competition, and ended up third in the District championship.

Determined to take the next two steps on the podium, this year’s journey started in early February as classroom-level speeches were held. This year’s theme, “How to Change the World with Optimism”, brought out the best in several students who applied their own personal experiences to create dynamic and interesting speeches.

With a heartfelt reflection on how to spread a positive mindset and a year’s experience in tow, Crane was eager to rise above the challenge. She won the school-level competition among a dozen of her peers on February 29th, and won the Zone contest for a second straight year before landing the elusive District victory.

For Crane, a steadfast commitment to live her message has been the key to her success.

“Although getting up in front of a crowd is scary, I remember to tell myself that someone else is going to walk out feeling inspired, and motivated,” Crane said. “To me, that is beyond rewarding. That is why I’m doing this. My speech was never supposed to be about me, it’s about the listener. It’s about how life is such a beautiful gift, and how there is no better way to live it than to be kind.“

As for the next step, she’s excited to put her best effort on a global stage while seeing what her competition from around the world has to offer.

“It feels so daunting, yet unreal,” Crane said. “I’m really looking forward to hearing the other speeches, and seeing the talent that brought them to Missouri, just as it brought me. This is such a huge achievement for me, and I am so unbelievably proud to represent Madison Central.”