Speech Contest Rules


Three prizes will be awarded  to the top three speeches from Yonkers elementary schools (K-5), middle schools (6-8), and high schools (9-12).

Elementary School Prizes: 1st Place: $300, 2nd Place: $200, 3rd Place: $100
Middle School Prizes: 1st Place: $400, 2nd Place: $300, 3rd Place: $200
High School Prizes: 1st Place: $500, 2nd Place: $400, 3rd Place: $300

Winners will be determined at a final round in the ceremonial courtroom at Yonkers City Hall, where finalists will deliver their speeches live.  Their families, teachers, and administrators, as well as community leaders, will be invited to attend and to meet and mingle with judges at a reception following the ceremony.


There are only a small number of requirements for the speech contest in addition to the eligibility requirements for students. These rules are:

  • Speeches must be an original work of scholarship.
  • Speeches must be between five and seven minutes long for middle and high school students. For elementary students, speeches must be between three and five minutes long.
  • Speeches must include citations to their sources.
  • Speeches must be delivered in the English language.

For more research tips, check out our Steps To Preparing Your Speech page. The full contest rules are available to download here.


All K-12 students who live or attend school in Yonkers are eligible to participate in the Contest.


The deadline for students to submit videos of their speeches is Friday, March 31, 2023.

Submit your speech online! 


Plagiarism is strictly forbidden and will result in the immediate removal of the offending speech from consideration for any prizes without notification to the student who submitted the speech. A student’s school may be contacted in the event of a suspected case of plagiarism.

Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. To avoid it, be sure to clearly cite any sources you reference, paraphrase, or directly quote. A good definition of plagiarism can be found on the University of Cambridge’s website. Do not hesitate to contact a teacher or librarian if you are unsure about a section of your speech.


Speeches for the Contest will be judged by a panel of New York attorneys and judges, Rotarians and Toastmasters, and community members. Judges will be assigned a group of speeches at random and do not receive any identifying information about the speeches until the finalists have been selected.

Speeches will be judged on the following criteria:

  • A clear, focused topic,
  • Effective organization and support of main ideas,
  • Strong literary voice and word choice, and
  • Appropriate posture, gestures, and eye contact.


Submit your speech on our online portal (opening soon!). Video recordings should not be edited–though you can record as many as you’d like and submit the best one!

The speech contest is presented in collaboration with the Yonkers Rotary Club. The Society is grateful to the Gloria and Barry H. Garfinkel Fund. 
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