This spring, the Optimist Club of Littleton held their annual oratorical and essay contests.
Since its inception in 1928, the Optimist Oratorical Contest has become the longest-running contest sponsored by Optimist International. It is designed to give students experience in public speaking and to provide them an opportunity to compete for a college scholarship.
This year, two LPS students, Alec Sirois from Heritage High School and Molly Gosling from Littleton High School, gave a four- to five-minute speech on the topic of “Healing the World with Optimism.” Molly came in third place out of eight competitors. “Both Molly and Alec gave outstanding speeches and represented LPS in the most positive light,” said an Optimist Club spokesperson.
This year, the Optimist Club of Littleton received 43 essays from students across the Littleton area. The top three essayists and their families were able to join the Optimists for one of their weekly meetings in March to be able to read their essays. Two of the top three essayists were LPS students: Catherine May from Littleton High School took first place with her essay, and Alice Macdonald from Franklin Elementary School took third place with her essay. Catherine’s essay, which you can read below, was forwarded to the Colorado-Wyoming district level to compete for a $2,500 college scholarship.
In both contests, the first place winner receives $500 and a gold medal, the second place winner receives $250 and a silver medal, and the third place winner receives $125 and a bronze medal.
“These two activities allow our Optimist Club of Littleton members to directly connect with and assist students in our community,” said an Optimist Club spokesperson.
LPS is very proud of students who competed in these contests!
Reaching Your Dreams by Choosing Optimism
By Catherine May, Littleton HIgh School
From my perspective, optimism is among the most misunderstood concepts of all time. Although to be fair, I have been guilty of this misconception many times myself. For a while, I subscribed to the idea that focus and preparation are substitutes for resiliency. I loved the concept that a person could completely avoid dealing with failure if they worked hard enough. Optimism would only be necessary for people who aren’t good enough to succeed the first time around. Luckily, I learned that your dreams aren’t big enough if you reach them without any kind of personal growth. I learned that optimism is not a mindset that keeps desperate people from seeing the reality of their shortcomings. Instead, optimism is the ability to see possibility and opportunity, even in dark places. Especially in dark places.
Sometimes in life, optimism is non-negotiable. We must either find hope or accept an unbearable reality, so we find hope. From a survival standpoint, optimism makes sense. It allows us to see beyond our current situation, which can be terrible. With optimism, we can’t escape reality, but we can refrain from accepting it. So occasionally, optimism is a survival method as opposed to an empowering mindset. But once we find a way to survive an experience, the next logical question is, how can I prosper? How can I do better and move forward and reach my dreams?
At this point, optimism is a choice. It is completely possible to live your life from a distance, watching dreams come into focus, then disappear beyond the horizon. So why do some people choose the faith that is optimism, and why do some people ignore it? In my experience, I choose optimism when I take responsibility for my destiny. If I am in control of my life, it doesn’t matter if I fail the first time or the 15th time. To me, nothing is as real as the fact that I am going to get there eventually.
A life with optimism might be similar to a life without optimism in many ways because optimism starts by changing little moments throughout your day. For example, optimism is like raising your hand. It certainly doesn’t guarantee that you’ll answer the question correctly. But raising your hand is the only way to possibly get the answer right. Optimism is seeing opportunities regardless of previous failures or circumstances. (Continued on next page) 11 Optimism is brave. Optimism is like saying good morning to a stranger. That stranger might forget your kind words in 30 seconds. Yet maybe, your interaction will completely brighten their day. Optimism is hopeful. Optimism also has the ability to dictate your life-changing moments. It is like trying 10,000 different ways to create a lightbulb, hoping that one will work. Optimism is irrational. And finally, optimism has the ability to dictate world-changing moments. Optimism allows a species to rebuild, reimage, and redefine society time after time. Optimism is essential.
However, optimism is not the naive belief that we will unquestionably reach our dreams. It is not insisting that an event is good, or a situation is good, or even that the world is good. The truth is that dreams die all the time. Reality fades into focus and failure is not an abstract fear but a longanticipated truth. We come crashing down, out of our preconceived notions and onto concrete. For a moment, we live in a world that demands more of us than what we have to offer. Despair is a universal emotion and is part of the human experience. Avoiding it is pointless. Because more likely than not, at some point, we will invest our emotions into something that will disappoint. Energy spent avoiding any form of pain is completely wasted. Instead, focus your time on learning from life, and rebuilding your world. All of us are capable of standing back up again, but we have to choose to. We have to choose optimism.
Optimism is most important when it comes to high-stakes situations. Specifically, situations that give us the chance to achieve our dreams. It’s easy to focus on the fact that a lot of people won’t make it. It’s also true that a lot of people won’t make it. But optimism allows us to see why. I might tell myself that my failures are because I’m not talented enough, or smart enough, or diligent enough. But my understanding of optimism tells me this: the overwhelming majority of my failures have happened because I stopped believing. I used to be under the misconception that optimism is a way for weak people to avoid the reality of their failures. Yet now, as I get closer to reaching my dreams, I want more than anything to maintain optimism when it matters most.