HONESDALE—Grace Episcopal Church will be a font of historical interpretation as the First Annual Living History Oral Expression Contest kicks off on Sunday, April 15, presented by local history enthusiast organization, The Delaware Company.

“We are so excited!” exclaimed contest organizer and Program Director,Teresa Kehagias. “I've been cooking this idea for a number of years.”

Starting at 2:00 p.m., the church, located at 827 Church Street, will be transported back to Revolutionary America as students in grades 6-12 recite famous speeches and writings of the founding fathers.

There will be two contestant classes, one containing grades 6-8 and the other, grades 9-12.

Kehagias noted response from the high school level has been overwhelming with numerous contestants eager to present their selections.

Centered around the theme, “Soul of the American Revolution, 1750-1800,” each of the students' recitations will be judged on their comprehension of the material, comfort in presenting it and connection with the audience.

Judges for the event include Sullivan County Historian, Joseph Conway, Honesdale High School (HHS) English Teacher, Amy Lesek, and HHS History/Government Teacher and head of the Social Studies department, Todd Miller.

Cash awards and trophies will be handed out to first, second and third place scorers.

Discussing the importance of such an event, Kehagias stated, “Being able to express oneself in front of a group of people is kind of a dying art.”

She explained the goal of the contest is to encourage development of public speaking skills.

She further noted, “Speaking the words of the founding fathers …. connects everyone, whether they are speaking the words or hearing the words spoken, to the spirit of the period.”

She later added, “In order to properly connect with and comprehend the words that they're relaying, they really have to come to understand what circumstances these words are emanating from. And, in doing so, it breathes life into the words. They're no longer just words on a page.”

Additionally, she noted the quality and eloquence with which the orators of old constructed their speeches offers lessons to the students which are unlocked through reading them.

“There's so much thought going into every sentence that is spoken.”

“I'm looking forward to hearing young people breathing life into these pivotal speeches,” she added.

Beyond the recitations, Kehagias said the mood and feel of the late 18th Century will persist in a sea of re-enactors present in period attire.

Participants and audience members are encouraged to don their own garb as well.

In addition to reproducing the look and feel of theAmerican Revolution, the Oral Expression Contest will also contain performances of period music.

Moreover, to set the revolutionary mood, Kehagias stated the contest will commence with a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

“I hope that this will be not just an event, but an experience,” said Kehagias.

Fore more information about the Oral Expression Contest, call Kehagias at 570-224-0813 or email her at praxis@ptd.net.