(Posted February 23, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Seven Juniata College students will present a persuasive speech on the best advice to deliver to President Barack Obama on the challenges facing the nation at the annual John M. and Thomas F. Bailey Oratorical Contest, to be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 in the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

The contest asks students to write and deliver a persuasive speech addressing the topic: "What advice would you give President Barack Obama about the challenges facing us?"

The contest asks students to write and deliver a persuasive speech addressing the topic: "What advice would you give President Barack Obama about the challenges facing us?"

A preliminary competition was held Feb. 21 to narrow the field of 40 student participants. Seven student speechmakers will take part in the final competition.

The seven finalists are seniors Jennifer Barry, of Chambersburg, Pa.; Marci Chamberlain, of Williamsburg, Pa.; Justin Doutrich, of Marietta, Pa.; Keenan Drenning, of Robertsdale, Pa.; and Hannah Everhart of Sterling, Va.; and sophomores Callandra McCool, of Spring Mills, Pa., and Paige Stott, of Tyrone, Pa.

The judges for the preliminary competition were Jennifer Najarian, a graduate student in education at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.; Colleen Hughes, a 2006 Juniata graduate, is a human resource assistant for UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Matthew Peters, a 2001 Juniata graduate, is a research engineer with Computer Aid Inc. in Allentown.

Judges for the final competition are:

Connie Kough Pittenger has been a Huntingdon County Commissioner since 2008 and also serves on the boards of directors for such groups as the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission, Huntingdon County Business and Industry, the Home Nursing Agency and the Huntingdon County Library Board.

Before pursuing elected office she spent two decades in public broadcasting, first at WITF-TV/Radio in Harrisburg, Pa., and then at Maryland Public Radio. She also served as director of national corporate support at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. She returned to Huntingdon in 2000, and in 2003 opened a Curves fitness center.

Pennsylvania Representative Jerry Stern serves the 80th Legislative District in Blair County and was elected to the legislature in 1992. Before running for representative, Stern was Blair County Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts.

He was elected by his party colleagues as Republican Caucus Secretary in 2006, where he helped shepherd legislation that balanced farming and environmental interests to protect the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He also collaborated with Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Fleck of the 81st District to ensure continued state funding for Juniata's Science in Motion program.

Anne Laird, a 2005 Juniata graduate and native of Altoona, Pa., is public affairs coordinator and grassroots organizer for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates in Harrisburg, Pa.

She is a member of the Cumberland County Young Democrats, as well as the Harrisburg Choral Society and the Middletown Twilight Baseball Booster Club. She also is a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the national communications honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, and Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society.

The prize money for the Bailey Oratorical Contest totals $1,800. The first-place winner receives $1,000, second place receives $500, and third place receives $300.

The original Bailey Oratorical Award was established in 1915 by the Honorable Thomas F. Bailey, who served as president judge of Huntingdon County from 1916 to 1936.

The oratorical contest has a long tradition at Juniata College, as students from all areas of study can compete for the monetary prize. An enhanced endowment contribution by Judge Bailey's son-in-law Colonel Sedgley Thornbury, has raised the prize money level to $1,800. In addition, the name of the winner will be permanently inscribed on an antique loving cup presented to the college by Colonel Thornbury's son, Thomas Bailey Thornbury.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.