The Lebow Oratorical Competition has been a cornerstone tradition of the Pingry Upper School for decades. Unfortunately, its final round, which gets most of the attention, only as room for six speakers – which leaves many well-written speeches from the first round without an audience. As such, The Record has decided to reach out to speakers from the first round and give them the chance to publish excerpts from their speeches. Below are four excerpts we received:

Margaret Zachary

But the point stands that a small moment I had during my time abroad is what had the biggest impact on me. A short conversation with a handful of Iraqi refugees completely changed my view of the world so that I could be more aware of the struggles outside of my immediate community. A lesson on humanity all encompassed in a five-minute conversation. So, take note of the small interactions you have with people, the quick conversations, they might end up making an impact on you more than you think. Live your five-minute moments.

Herbert Toler

During the winter break, my family and I watched Toy Story 4. It was a refreshing opportunity because this family comedy series has been a staple of my youth.

As the latest installment of the series began, I felt concerned that I might have aged out of the content that I had loved in boyhood. Quickly, I realized this to be untrue. Soon we were introduced to Duke Kaboom, a new character that reminded me of the value of building community.

Throughout the film’s plot, I recognized how building community allowed for greater achievement, a sense of purpose, and a better understanding of each other.

While we may not live in a toy universe, make it your mission to care for those in our community, enabling us to reach our fullest potentials.

Today, I am calling for you to utilize the best resources we have available to us, each other.

Emma Drzala

Success is ultimately winning. Winning is whatever you want to define it as, but in the end, a winner is someone who has endured the hard moments, someone who has looked past the failures to reach their goals. Our teachers in High School always remind us that there is more to life than the gradebook, that High School is a small part in the puzzle that is life. Like most, I had–and still sometimes have–trouble accepting this notion. Losing occasionally can help us to realize this. Whether it be getting onto a team or getting admitted into college, everything we do seems to be for an end goal. My losses have shown me what I find most important in life, and I was finally motivated to succeed for myself, not for my end goal.

Zala Bhan

As someone who learned early on in life that communities don’t thrive if some are left behind, I find it unconscionable that some Americans have to choose between food, medicine, and the internet for their children to learn. […] Millions of kids, I remind you, of lower socio-economic backgrounds, primarily black and brown, are without proper access to basic schooling [during this time], and this is not a headline? […] We cannot live with this inequity, sitting safely guarded behind our plexiglass shields, while the academic pandemic throws some of our generation behind.