Students from Carbon County high schools delivered speeches on Tuesday at Penn's Peak for the annual Carbon County Oratory competition.

This year's competition featured eight young speechmakers from Jim Thorpe, Palmerton, Panther Valley and Weatherly high schools who have been preparing their speeches for months.

The two champions were Michael Trainer, a Jim Thorpe student, whose entry, "The Magic of the Theater," spoke on his passion for the theater, and Liz Johnson, also a student at Jim Thorpe, whose topic, "Some Things Last Forever," centered on future teens' deprivation of arts and music in schools due to budget cuts.

Participants also included Weatherly senior Matthew Caccese, whose speech, "Cuts and Consequences," centered on the educational budget cuts that are hurting education for students in various important curriculum areas; and Samantha Hartz, also a student at Weatherly, whose speech, "To Test or Not to Test," questioned the Pennsylvania System Students Assessments (PSSA)tests on being a good measure of students' abilities.

Panther Valley student, Steven Maillet, "Speaking Silently," noted that body language doesn't always coincide with a person's feelings; and Katelyn Evans, whose speech, "Science Fiction: A Crystal Ball," suggested that many high technology advances were thought of first by science fiction writers.

Palmerton students, Jon McCabe, chose the topic "Appreciation," and shared his thoughts on how it affects one's life; and Amy Huddock, who spoke on her unique experience as a Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) participant.

Each student had a coach to help them present their speech. The coaches were: Christina Rosenberger, Jim Thorpe; Bonnie C. Tavella, Palmerton; Elizabeth Walsh, Panther Valley; and Barbara Sipler, Weatherly.

All the speeches had to be between five to eight minutes long, but could be about any subject and be in any style.

The judges scored the participants on substance, structure, style, bodily expression, vocal expression and personal qualities.

At the conclusion of the competition, each participant was awarded a trophy for his or her hard work.

Carbon County Oratory Contest is a long-standing tradition that began as the Carbon County Principal's Association Oratorical Contest years ago with participants from Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Palmerton, Panther Valley and Weatherly.

The Carbon County Oratory Contest was videotaped by Blue Ridge Cable.