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First OCAY League Competition Gets A Vote of Approval

Submitted article

The first Oswego County Academic Youth League competition was held recently at the Fulton War Memorial. Coaches Melissa Osborne from Pulaski and Eric Lanious from Altmar-Parish Williamstown brought together a timely competition of a political nature. Teams representing all nine schools in the county descended upon the War Memorial like a presidential political campaign rally with the difference being that students didn’t know it was a political competition and didn’t know which party they would be representing before arriving. Teams drew presidential candidates and were given fact sheets that defined Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s energy policies. They were given several tasks to complete over the course of the day-long competition. They had to create a political cartoon on an energy issue, take a test on presidential politics throughout history; compose and present a three-minute speech on one of the candidate’s energy policy and compose and present a 30-second radio ad for their presidential candidate’s energy policy. The teams did not select which candidate they wanted to support, but rather randomly drew names to determine their political affiliation.

The event drew upon many skills from the competitors including: artistic ability, knowledge of political history and current events, public speaking and performance ability, creativity, teamwork and of course, an interest in politics. Most of the participants were not old enough to vote, but that did not show in their political knowledge or in the fervor they held for the issues.

Independent judges scored the radio ads, speeches given by the representatives of the teams, and the political cartoons. When all scores were tallied, the overall winning team was Fulton, with Central Square and Phoenix finishing second and third respectively.

The OCAY League was organized in the spring of 1997 with the idea that academics merit a standing comparable to athletics. Students’ academic skills are challenged and showcased in a wide variety of competitive events that emphasize scholastic excellence, team building, leadership and creativity. A particular strength of the league is its emphasis on cooperative problem solving. OCAY League is coordinated through Oswego County BOCES’ Instructional Support Services as part of the Gifted and Talented Programs cooperative services.