It appears that our future is in good hands if you listened to the fifth graders speaking at the SBPL Foundation’s Young Orators Competition on Sunday, Nov. 24.

Dressed in their best and seated in rows facing an audience of friends and family, each of the participants waited their turn to speak for two to seven minutes in the large meeting room at the South Brunswick Public Library.

After more than two and one half hours, three winners were chosen from the 17 speakers:

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  • Arav Malhotra of the Millstone River School in West Windsor won First Place for a speech about the environment.
  • Mohammed Balsara of Constable Elementary School won Second Place for a speech about social media.
  • Spriha Subbiah of Brunswick Acres Elementary School won Third Place for a speech about social media.

At registration, participants were asked to choose from three topics: Building Community, The Environment, and Social Media and then write a 150-word essay about the chosen topic.

This is the first time the Library Foundation has organized a student public speaking competition.

“Public speaking is a critical skill that is best practiced early in a student’s career,” said Bina Mehta, Event Chair and Foundation secretary.

Ms. Mehta said the goal of this new competition is to help the young students build skills to speak and write creatively and confidently. “This is what libraries do. Literary support is a way for the Library Foundation to give back to the community for generations to come.”


The public speaking competition is for children in third, fourth and fifth grades; a separate competition is planned for each grade level. There will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners for each grade level competition. All participants receive a t-shirt and a Certificate of Achievement.

Every one of the children were able to speak with confidence, said Ms. Mehta, adding that the Board members were surprised and impressed with the performance of every one of the students in this first competition.

The Fourth Graders will compete on Dec. 8. Third Graders will compete on Jan. 12, 2020.

The SBPL Foundation’s Young Orators Competition series is being presented in partnership with the CKW Academy and the Youth Leadership Development Program.