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New Town Students Recognized in Oratory, Essay Contests

New Town High School students were recognized by WJZ and the Optimist Club for essays and speeches.

Chioma Eneremadu doesn’t think she’s a great public speaker, but WJZ-13 is of a different opinion.

The New Town High School senior won second place in WJZ’s Black History Oratory Contest on Feb. 17, earning herself a $1,200 college scholarship.

“It’s weird because I’m not really good at speaking in front of people, so I was surprised,” she said.

Fellow senior April Fernandez was a runner-up, one of 20 students who presented their speeches.

Another one of their classmates, freshman Lauren Sifford, won $100 from the Optimist Club of Reisterstown/Owings Mills in an essay contest, and is up for $2,500 in the statewide contest.

Fernandez, who was also a finalist last year, and Eneremadu focused their speeches on inspirational quotes. Fernandez spoke about having certain traits – passion, patience and strength – to help achieve dreams. Eneremadu, who was born with a hearing impairment, wrote about obstacles she’s overcome, including bullying.

“Success can’t be measured by the position you’re in, but the obstacles you had to overcome,” she said.

Sifford wrote her essay about how to help friends realize their value.

“It’s basically helping friends realize their potential,” she said. “You have to be a role model.”

For New Town Principal Sam Mustipher, the awards are validation. After noticing his school’s SAT writing scores had room for improvement, he and his leadership team came up with a strategy to emphasize writing across all curricular areas, even math. The effort is in its third year at the school.

“It’s good to know that some of the initiatives I’ve done are paying off for the students,” he said.

As a freshman, Sifford is inspired to continue to enter similar contests during her high school career. For the seniors, it was an honor to be recognized and be able to pay tribute to Black History Month.

“[It’s about] recognizing all the goals and hardships that every African American went through and to remember that in your heart,” Fernandez said.

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