Zeena Whayeb Wins TNSSAR Oration Contest and Advances to National Level

ZEENA WHAYEB WINS TNSSAR ORATION CONTEST AND ADVANCES TO NATIONAL LEVEL IN CALIFORNIA — Whayeb's exceptional writing and presentation skills have earned her a ticket to compete nationally in the Historical Oration Contest in California, where she will compete for a $5,000 grand prize.

Jaheim Williams

ZEENA WHAYEB WINS TNSSAR ORATION CONTEST AND ADVANCES TO NATIONAL LEVEL IN CALIFORNIA — Whayeb's exceptional writing and presentation skills have earned her a ticket to compete nationally in the Historical Oration Contest in California, where she will compete for a $5,000 grand prize.


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Throughout their high school career, students are often required to write exceptional reports. Their hard work pays off in the end, as their overall GPA increases. However, there are other voluntary ways for students to receive more than just a grade for their effort. If they possess a passion for writing, they can write competitively through essay contests.

Zeena Whayeb, who is currently a senior, has been interested in writing for the bulk of her high school career. She locally won both contests she entered in her sophomore and junior years. During her senior year, she shined with her chapter and state victories in the Tennessee Society Sons of the American Revolution’s (TNSSAR) Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest.

An oration is a formal speech, usually without any props. Whayeb’s task was to write an essay about the American Revolution, memorize it, and deliver it. It is indeed difficult for anyone to memorize a script or a piece of writing, and it may be especially tough when you are required to memorize a 700 word essay. Memorization was not an easy feat for Whayeb, either. Nevertheless, she successfully memorized it using various methods.

“I used many techniques to memorize my oration. Repetition, trial and error, and help from friends were really useful in order to improve my memory. The most helpful technique I used was recording my voice while reciting the oration and playing it back while reading it, using two senses at once. I was surprised, as well, because it did not take me long to memorize over 700 words,” said Whayeb.

Whayeb can recall exactly when her immersion into literature was sparked.

“My tenth grade year was when I acquired a interest for writing. This was when I won in my first district-wise essay competition. My interest ignited due to my hobby of reading and editing,” stated Whayeb.

Refering back to her present competition, she explained the reasoning behind the main topic of her oration and how she settled on the subject after browsing through several options. Her topic expanded upon what the person did for the American Revolution.

“I chose Thomas Paine as my essay topic because I already knew a sufficient amount of information about him. While browsing through his contributions to the American Revolution, I recognized his pamphlets. I realized I was more interested in the pamphlets he made towards the revolution, and I decided to make my focus on one of them,” said Whayeb.

Stage fright and anxiety are both natural instincts to anybody giving a presentation. Whayeb believes that help from others made the journey a lot easier.

“It was difficult to conquer my stage fright, but I still managed to present. My hands would shake and my voice would crack, but practicing in front of people made presenting a lot easier. When the time came, I felt confident that I did all I can,” revealed Whayeb.

For winning the state contest, Whayeb was awarded with the Rumbaugh Oration medal, a certificate, and a check for $1,000. In July, she will be heading to California for the national contest where she will compete for the $5,000 grand prize. She has come a long way to get to this position and is still reaching for higher ranks.

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