(Posted February 20, 2012)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- An articulate group of seven Juniata College students will attempt to convince a panel of judges that today's younger generation possess the qualities to deeply affect a rapidly changing world at the annual John M. and Thomas F. Bailey Oratorical Contest, to be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 in the von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus.

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

Bailey competitors are asked to write and deliver a persuasive speech addressing the topic: "What does it mean to live in "interesting times" and what are the qualities of youth that our interesting times demand?"

The contest this year takes inspiration from the following quote from a 1966 Robert F. Kennedy speech in Cape Town, South Africa, "Like it or not, we live in interesting times. This world demands the qualities of youth." Bailey competitors are asked to write and deliver a persuasive speech addressing the topic: "What does it mean to live in "interesting times" and what are the qualities of youth that our interesting times demand?"

A preliminary competition was held Saturday, Feb. 18 to narrow the field of approximately 60 student participants. Seven would-be orators will take part in the final competition.

The seven finalists are seniors Alyssa Beck, of New Kensington, Pa.; Libby Morrison, of Portland, Ore.; Maeve Neiswanger, of South Windsor, Conn.; Ellen Santa Maria, of Wallingford, Pa.; junior Bryan Aungst, of Millerstown, Pa.; sophomores Zachary Lemon, of New Bloomfield, Pa., and Elise Mihranian, of Chester Springs, Pa.

The judges for the preliminary competition were Colleen Hughes-Gratter, a 2006 Juniata graduate and an administrative assistant at Development Dimensions International in Pittsburgh, Pa.; William Campbell, assistant vice president and relationship manager at Juniata Valley Bank and a 2010 Juniata graduate; and Julia Bogue, grants coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association in Harrisburg, Pa., and a graduate student at Penn State University. She is a 2010 Juniata graduate.

Judges for the final competition are:

Thomas Bailey Thornbury, a retired nuclear physicist with General Electric and the son of Sedgley and Elizabeth Bailey Thornbury, the donors who continue to sponsor the Bailey Oratorical awards. The Thornburys also built and donated to the College the house that Juniata's president lives in. Thornbury earned a bachelor's degree in 1958 from Princeton University. He currently lives in Berlin, N.Y. He is honored to be a judge in this contest and delighted to be returning to Huntingdon.

Laurie Patterson Trexler, a 1970 graduate of Juniata, taught at the elementary school level for 24 years. She left the elementary classroom after earning a master's degree in Teaching ESL, and oversaw the ESL program in Brandywine Heights School District in Berks County. Now retired, she volunteers as the Children's Ministry Director and Children's Church teacher at her local church.

John Hanna is an Indiana, Pa., attorney who has run his own law firm since 2003. He specializes in real estate, wills and estates. H earned a bachelor's degree in 1974 from West Virginia University and went on to earn a law degree in 1980 from the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. He remains active in Indiana County and Pennsylvania politics and was a candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1984. From 1996 to 2002, he was the solicitor for the Indiana County Tax Assessment and Tax Claims Office.

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, provides the contest's prize money. 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.