(Posted February 23, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Seven Juniata College students will present a persuasive speech detailing their definitions of "the pursuit of happiness" at the annual John M. and Thomas F. Bailey Oratorical Contest, to be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 2 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: "In the 21st century, what is the 'pursuit of happiness' and what are the implications of that pursuit?"

A preliminary competition was held Feb. 20 to narrow the field of approximately 40 student participants. Seven student speechmakers will take part in the final competition.

The seven finalists are seniors Grace Canfield, of Littleton, N.H.; Marci Chamberlain, of Williamsburg, Pa.; Bennett Rea, of Oakmont, Pa.; Sarah Ruggiero, of Bangor, Pa.; and Anne Staudenmaier of Harrisburg, Pa.; junior Callandra McCool, of Spring Mills, Pa., and Vanessa Guerra, an international student from Quito, Ecuador.

The judges for the preliminary competition were Jennifer Jones, a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in public health at University of Pittsburgh; Jennifer Najarian, a graduate student in education at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.; and Michael Horning, a graduate student in mass communication at Penn State University.

Judges for the final competition are:

George Cockett, a retired district manager and sales engineer for MagneTek Inc, a manufacturer of digital drive and motion control systems for industrial applications based in Menomonee, Wis. A resident of Wayne, N.J., he is a graduate of the RCA Institute in New York City. He also served in the U.S. Army as a Signal Corps School Instructor.

Angela Thompson, of Huntingdon, Pa., is a 1992 graduate of Juniata. She started Thompson's Candle Co., a local scented candle business that ships its products to gift shops across the country. She started the business out of her home in 1997 and now operates it with her husband. The business has a factory on Allegheny Street in Huntingdon

Jessica Quinter, of Petersburg, Pa., is a 2000 graduate of Juniata. She started her teaching career in 2001 at Juniata Valley Elementary School, where she is now the elementary principal and Federal Programs Coordinator. She completed a master's degree in education at Saint Francis University, where she also earned a Principal Certificate and Reading Specialist Certification. She currently serves as the Juniata Alumni Association president and is active as a member of Friends of the Raystown Field Station, the Juniata College Education Affinity Group, and Friends of Raystown Lake.

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.