Oratory contest


Shelby County RTL Oratory Contest Information

National RTL Oratory Contest

Shelby County Right to Life Oratory Contest Information

Important Dates

Registration Deadline: Thursday, February 14
2019 Local Contest Date: Monday, February 18 (President’s Day), 6:30 pm in Sidney
State Contest: Saturday, April 27 in Columbus
National Contest: July 6, in Charleston, SC


All high school juniors and seniors who are residents of Shelby County or attend a Shelby County high school are eligible to participate in the Shelby County Right to Life Oratory Contest.


Prizes for 1st through 3rd places are $300, $150, and $100 respectively. The winner will continue to the state contest, with the chance of winning a trip to the national competition.

Contact Anne Schmiesing at 937-492-5584 or by e-mail with questions or to register.

Local Junior Wins 10th Annual Pro-Life Speech Contest

Shelby County Oratory Contest 2018Malorie Hussey took top honors in the 10th annual Shelby County Pro-Life Oratory Contest on Presidents' Day. Hussey spoke on the many adverse effects that child-loss through abortion can have on women, but also shared inspiring stories of recovery and healing. Hussey is in her third year at Lehman Catholic High School and, according to her speech, is considering a career in gynecology.

Hussey was one of six contestants.  Runner up in the contest was Abby Jones, a senior at Lehman Catholic High School. In third place was Joe Ballas, a junior at Fort Loramie High School. The five to seven-minute speeches included the topics of abortion, doctor-prescribed suicide and stem cell research.

Contest prizes ranged from $300 to $100 and, as the winner, Hussey will go on to compete in the state contest in April, with a chance to continue to the national level. Judges were Tara Adams, of Sidney; Sanna Aikin, a French teacher and translator; and Kurtis Black, an attorney practicing in Troy.

Anne Schmiesing, the coordinator of the contest, noted, “Ten years ago was our first contest in Shelby County, and our winner, Elizabeth Trisler, started us off with a win at the state level. The following year she won both the state and national contests. Malorie is also an excellent presenter and I expect her to represent Shelby County well at the next level.”

Update: Malorie placed third at the Ohio Right to Life contest. Congratulations, Malorie!

Oratory winners 2017Lehman Senior Emerges Victorious in 2017 Oratory Contest

Lehman High School senior Jacob Schmiesing is the 2017 winner of the Shelby County Right to Life regional Pro-Life Oratory contest. Schmiesing won with a speech on euthanasia conveying his hope that even during suffering, “people will come to see how much they are worth...and they will respond to the call to live with dignity.”

The event was held Monday, February 20 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sidney. Of the four prize-winning speeches in the contest, two discussed euthanasia, one addressed ethical concerns with embryonic stem cell experimentation (in contrast to the successes of adult stem cell research) and one dealt with abortion. Schmiesing’s six-minute speech earned the grand prize of $300, as well as the honor of representing Shelby County at the state level of this national contest. He will compete next in Columbus in April.

The contest judges were Rev. Jonathan Schriber, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church; Sanna Aikin, a French and English teacher and translator; and Kurtis Black, an attorney practicing in Troy.

Pictured above are the four prize winners (L to R): Savanna Manger (4th place, Anna High School), Stephanie Esser (Runner-up, Anna High School), Clare Schmiesing (3rd place, Lehman High School), Jacob Schmiesing (1st place, Lehman High School).

Oratory Contest 2016Russia Senior Takes Top RTL Speech Prize

Update: Congratulations to Erin Gaerke for winning second place at the Ohio Right to Life state oratory contest!

On Monday, February 15, six students from Shelby County schools took on the daunting task of public speaking, competing in the annual Pro-Life Oratory Contest sponsored by Shelby County Right to Life. The event concluded with Russia High School senior Erin Gaerke winning first place and moving on to the state competition in April. Runner-up was Nathan Platfoot, a senior at Botkins High School; and third place went to Jacob Schmiesing, a junior at Lehman Catholic High School. (Pictured, left to right, are Schmiesing, Gaerke, and Platfoot.) Gaerke and Platfoot both also placed in last year's contest.

The speeches were judged by Tara Adams, Amy Gleason, and Pastor Jon Schriber. The event was held at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sidney. The first through third place winners receive cash awards of $300, $150 and $100, respectively.

Speeches were to be in the 5 to 7 minute range and focused on the topics of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia or stem cell research. The winning speech presented the question: “How will history remember us?” Gaerke wondered whether her generation would be remembered like the ancient “Spartan mothers leaving their weak children on the cliffside to die,” or rather, as she hoped, that “History will remember us as the Pro-Life Generation.”

RTL thanks Pastor Jon and St. John's for once again hosting the contest; each of the judges, all of whom have served for this contest multiple times in recent years; RTL members who provided refreshments; and Anne Schmiesing for coordinating the event.

Sherman Wins 2015 Contest

Dylan Sherman, a senior at Lehman Catholic High School, topped the competition at the RTL Oratory Contest Monday, February 16. The contest was held at St. John's Lutheran Church in Sidney.

Second place went to Nathan Platfoot, a junior at Botkins High School. Placing third was a Russia High School junior, Erin Gaerke.

Congratulations to our winners, and to all of the competitors, who all delivered impressive pro-life speeches.


Trisler Takes 1st at 2014 Pro-Life Speech Contest

“Gas chambers.” These riveting first words opened Christy Trisler’s speech, which compared abortion in America to the Holocaust in Germany. The address skillfully wove together statistics and emotional appeal and Trisler delivered it flawlessly, earning herself first place in this year’s Shelby County Right to Life oratory contest, held Monday, February 24, at St. John's Lutheran Church in Sidney.

Aaron Amsden, a senior at Christian Academy placed second, winning $150, and the third place prize of $100 went to Isaac Abbott, also a senior at Christian Academy. (Above, Trisler chats with Abbott, center, and Amsden.)

Also participating were Courtney Gies of Jackson Center High School, Nawal Hijazi of Sidney High School, and Christian Academy student Caleb Ordean.

Event chair Anne Schmiesing said that all of the speeches were excellent. “The judges always have a difficult task,” she said, “and this year was no different.”

“The students were well-prepared,” she added, “and their poise in addressing the audience was so impressive.”

Junior and senior high school students residing in or attending school in Shelby County were eligible for the contest. Each student was allotted five to seven minutes to compellingly present their concerns about one of four abuses of the right to life: killing of disabled infants, abortion, assisted-suicide or stem-cell research involving embryonic-stage humans. (See the full list of rules, guidelines, and tips.)

Judges for the contest were Tara Adams, Amy Gleason, and Kevin Schmiesing.

Trisler is registered as a senior at Sidney High School and attends Edison Community College through PSEOP. With her award, Trisler receives $300 and the right to compete in the Ohio Right to Life state oratory contest in April. The winner of the state competition moves on to participate in the National Right to Life Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest, to be held in June in Louisville, Kentucky.

Update: Christy Trisler, winner of the Shelby County RTL Oratory Contest, placed third in the state-level contest on April 26. Naomi del Guidice, representing Wayne-Holmes RTL, won the competition. Congratulations, Christy!

Ethan Jock Wins 2013 Oratory Contest

Lehman Catholic senior Ethan Jock narrowly edged second-place finisher Christy Trisler in the sixth annual Pro-life Oratory Contest of Shelby County. Trisler is enrolled in the Post Secondary Education Program at Sidney High School and attending classes at Edison Community College. Third place went to Mary Ellen (Ellie) Waldsmith, a senior at Lehman. There were a total of eight participants in this year’s competition. As the contest winner, Jock will represent Shelby County in the state contest in Columbus on Saturday April 27, with a chance to win a paid trip to the National Right to Life Convention competition. Each of the winners of the local contest received cash prizes.

Contest coordinator, Anne Schmiesing, noted, “I know it was an especially hard decision for the judges this year. Several of the contestants spoke of personal experiences; their parents had been encouraged to abort a child whom they were told would have birth defects. After those parents made the choice to give birth, they discovered the diagnosis was not even right. Those families were able to see what they would have missed, had they despaired in the face of a disability.”

Jock’s speech addressed the racist, eugenicist foundations of so-called pro-choice groups, such as Planned Parenthood. He also addressed the harmful social and economic effects of the widespread use of abortion as birth control. The other prize-winning speeches, by Trisler and Waldsmith, both outlined the numerous psychological dangers of abortions, as well as the physical dangers which can even be fatal to the mother, despite pro-abortion groups touting the procedure as safe as long as it’s legal.

The contest was open to any local 11th or 12th grade students. They were asked to research, write and present an original pro-life speech on abortion, infanticide, euthanasia/assisted-suicide or embryonic stem cell research. They were judged on presentation, organization, use of current and accurate facts, and affirmation of the value of human life in all stages of development. Judging the competition were Amy Gleason, a speech and communications teacher at Sidney High School; Pastor Jonathan Schriber of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sidney, where the contest was held; and Michael Staudt, a local attorney. RTL is grateful to Pastor Jon and St. John’s Church for graciously hosting this annual event; to the judges for donating their time and expertise; to those who contributed prizes; and to all of the participants.

Sehlhorst Takes Top Honors at 2012 Oratory Contest

Congratulations to all six oratory contestants, who delivered outstanding speeches. Daniel Sehlhorst, a senior at Lehman, took first place; Kerrie Josefovsky was second; and Amelia Schultz was third.

Thank you to our judges, Amy Gleason, Mike Staudt, and Rev. Jon Schriber, and to St. John's Lutheran Church for again hosting the competition.

Good luck to Dan, who goes on to compete at the Ohio state oratory contest.

Pictured are contestants, left to right: Dillion Barhorst (Sidney High), Kerrie Josefovsky (Lehman CHS), David Wilcox (Christian Academy), Amelia Schultz (Lehman CHS), Dan Sehlhorst (Lehman CHS), Holly Spencer (Christian Academy)

Phillips Takes Top Prize in 2011 Oratory Contest

Three local students were awarded scholarship prizes during the annual RTL regional pro-life oratory contest, held February 10. The top honor went to junior Makayla Phillips of Maplewood, who will go on to compete at the state level contest, sponsored by the Center for Life and Hope, to be held Saturday, April 16. Runner-up was Cameron Jock of Sidney and Adrian Helton, a student at Upper Valley JVS, placed third. From left : Schmiesing, Jock, Phillips, Helton.

Contest coordinator, Anne Schmiesing explained, “Each of the three prize-winners had their strengths over the other contestants: one with clever bits of comic relief, another with a very strong and clear speaking style. Phillips’ speech was solidly outlined and she made good use of statistics and scientific facts that indisputably demonstrate the presence of human life inside the womb.”

Any local high school junior or senior was eligible to participate in the contest, in which students were asked to research, write and present an original pro-life speech on abortion, infanticide, euthanasia/assisted-suicide or embryonic stem cell research. The scoring of the contest was strongly weighted on the prepared speech, with oral presentation accounting for one-fourth of the score. The orators were judged on presentation, organization and content, including use of current and accurate facts, and affirmation of the value of human life in all stages of development. Judging the competition were Amy Gleason, a speech and communications teacher at Sidney High School; Pastor Jon Schriber of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sidney, where the contest was held; and Anne Schmiesing, co-director of Right to Life-Shelby County.

Schmiesing commented, “The young adults who participate in this contest and other pro-life activities are encouraging to me; I know they will be future leaders in fostering a culture of life.”

McEldowney Wins 2010 Speech Contest

With a clever introduction and verbal illustrations drawn from personal experience helping teens in crisis pregnancies, Chloe McEldowney, a senior at Russia High School, received top honors for her speech at the Pro-Life Oratory Contest sponsored by Right to Life of Shelby County on Thursday, February 25 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sidney.

Nine juniors and seniors participated in the contest, speaking on topics ranging from the biological beginning of human life at conception to unjustifiable decisions to hasten or cause the death of an adult through euthanasia. One contestant identified commonalities between proponents of abortion and of slavery in their disregard for the rights and autonomy of the human person.

Last year’s contest winner, Elizabeth Trisler, went on to win at the state and national levels. In April, McEldowney will follow in Trisler’s footsteps to the statewide Ohio Pro-Life Oratory Contest, in Westerville, Ohio with the chance to proceed to the national contest in June. In McEldowney’s exhortation, she admitted that helping people make life-affirming choices often requires enduring opposition and trials, which, at times, is like enduring a terrible stench, but she affirmed, “I am so happy that my family and I are able to reach out and help each of these young mothers and their babies. There is no stench in this world that would make me want to stop supporting life in this way.”

“I was very impressed with all of the speeches,” stated contest coordinator Anne Schmiesing. “With the number of pro-life young people growing, there is hope that abortion can be abolished, just as slavery has been, though it may not happen overnight.” 

Runner-up in the competition was Botkins High School senior, Jean Goettemoeller, and in third place was Sarah Trisler, a homeschooled junior from Sidney. First through third place prizes were $300, $150 and $100. Also competing were Cody Blust and Tadd Martin of Christian Academy; Sarah Hipple, Taylor Thompson and Paul Trygstad of Sidney High School and Allison Ulbrich, of Lehman Catholic High School. Judges were State Representative John Adams and area teachers, Amy Gleason (Sidney High School) and Henry Cordonnier (Lehman Catholic).

National Champion!

Shelby County's Elizabeth Trisler took first place in the National Right to Life Oratory Contest in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Winner of Right to Life of Shelby County's oratory contest in February, Trisler went on to win the state-level Ohio Right to Life competition in April. She received an all expense paid trip to North Carolina to compete at the national level. Two-time winner of both the local and state contests, Trisler finished in the top ten in the national competition last year.

"On behalf of all the Ohio Right to Life Board of Trustees, our Chapters and our Pro-Life youth, I want to sincerely thank Elizabeth for her accomplishments and steadfast advocacy for Life," said Mike Gonidakis, Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life. "She certainly is a young role model and a shining example of the countless number of pro-life teenagers in the great state of Ohio," said Gonidakis.

The competition consisted of three rounds as the field of nineteen state winners was gradually narrowed down. As champion, Trisler receives a cash prize of $1000.

RTL co-director Anne Schmiesing praised Trisler's dedication. "She has extraordinary natural talent and has worked very hard on her speech. Most importantly, she is passionate about this issue and about promoting the pro-life message to her peers."

The daughter of Lee and Sandi Trisler of Sidney, Elizabeth is a homeschooled senior in high school. She was accompanied to the national contest by her mother. Sandi stressed the spiritual dimension of the competition. "Elizabeth prayed the whole time that God’s will would be done. Of course she wanted to do her absolute best on the speech. But she also prayed that the speech that God wanted to win would win." She was also struck by the supportive environment of such a high-level competition. "The support the kids gave each other was just terrific; I was impressed by the integrity and maturity of these students. It gives hope for the future of this country!"

Elizabeth Trisler is willing to deliver her award-winning speech to local organizations, schools, or church groups. To arrange a presentation, please contact RTL at 498-1812

Trisler Repeats as Ohio RTL Oratory Winner, To Compete at National Event

(Columbus, OH) On Saturday, April 25th, Elizabeth Trisler of Shelby County Right to Life won the 2009 Ohio Right to Life Oratory Contest and will compete at the National Right to Life Oratory Contest, held this summer in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Ohio Right to Life contest, co-sponsored by the Otterbein Students for Life, was held on the campus of Otterbein University. 

“We are very proud of Elizabeth and all the participants in this year’s oratory contest,” stated Mike Gonidakis, President of Ohio Right to Life.  “The students did an outstanding job and we couldn’t be happier with the hard work and determination of not only the students, but their parents and local chapters as well,” stated Gonidakis.  The judges for the 2009 Oratory Contest included, Tracie Johnson, Chairman of Ohio Right to Life, Professor Keith Miller (retired) of Capital University, Monica Mack, Director of Kinder Women’s Care Center, and Nathaniel Bean, the Vice-President of Otterbein Students for Life.   

The eleven eligible high school juniors and seniors, each of whom won their local Right to Life Chapter contest, wrote an original speech on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, infanticide, or euthanasia.  “The issue of the sanctity of life is one that is at the forefront of public debate,” continued Gonidakis.  “Today’s teens are tomorrow’s public officials and pro-life leaders.  Ohio Right to Life will continue to provide every opportunity to encourage our youth to establish the skills needed to communicate the Pro-Life message in a positive way.  This was a great opportunity to hone their public speaking skills and meet other pro-life students,” stated Gonidakis. 

As the winner of the state competition, Elizabeth and a guest will receive an all-expense paid trip to the National Oratory Contest on June 20, 2009.   The winner of the national contest will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Ohio Right to Life Press Release, April 28, 2009

Trisler Repeats as Oratory Champion

Elizabeth Trisler, two-time winner of the Right to Life of Shelby County Oratory Contest, will be competing at the annual Ohio Pro-Life Oratory Contest, sponsored by the Center for Life and Hope, to be held on Saturday, April 25, 2009 in Westerville, Ohio.

“We are very proud of Miss Trisler. Last year she represented Shelby County very well, winning the state contest and advancing to the top 10 in the national contest. We wish her the best as she continues to compete this year,” stated Anne Schmiesing, Right to Life co-director and coordinator of the event. “Each of the contestants prepared a well organized, articulate, convincing speech."

The contest--open to high school juniors and seniors—required competitors to research, write and present an original pro-life speech on abortion, infanticide, euthanasia/assisted- suicide or embryonic stem cell research, to be five to seven minutes in duration. The competition was held Saturday, February 14, 2009 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Sidney. The orators were judged on presentation, organization and content: including use of current and accurate facts, and affirmation of the value of human life in all stages of development. Judging the competition were Amy Gleason, a speech and communications teacher at Sidney High School; Henry Cordonnier, a Lehman Catholic High School religion teacher; and Ohio State Representative, John Adams.

Trisler received stiff competition from the runner-up, Paul Trygstad, a junior from Sidney. Both received cash prizes. Trisler is slated to participate in the state competition, where the winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the National Right to Life Oratory Contest to be held at the National Right to Life Convention in Arlington, Virginia, June 20, 2009.

"This contest is a wonderful learning experience for these students. Their affirmation of the intrinsic value of all human life will positively impact society and individuals struggling to respect life,”said Schmiesing.


©2007 Shelby County Right to Life, P.O Box 72, Sidney, Ohio, 45365