Anaheim Union students clean up at Project Soapbox speech competition

We’re written a few times here about Project Soapbox, a public speaking competition that challenges young people across the country to research and address issues impacting their communities.

The initiative is organized by Action Civics CA through the Mikva Challenge, and its latest local contest was held on Dec. 8, drawing about 100 competitors to Santa Ana’s Santiago Elementary School. For the second year in a row, student orators from the Anaheim Union High School District cleaned up.

Students on stage

Andrew Perera of Oxford Academy, left, won first place overall at this month’s Project Soapbox speech competition. Truong Ngo of Savanna High School took second place in the high school division and Oxford’s Vinutha Sandadi placed third.

“It was another tour-de-force performance by the Brookhurst Soapbox Speech Team and the Anaheim Union district,” said district coach Ken Kanouse.

In fact, AUHSD produced a majority of the event’s finalists and boasted first-, second- and third-place winners in both the middle and high school divisions.

Andrew Perera of Oxford Academy won first place overall for his speech on school shootings. The victory earns Andrew a trip to Washington, D.C. to present in front of a national audience.

Truong Ngo of Savanna High School took second place for his commentary on vaping in high schools, and Oxford’s Vinutha Sandadi placed third with her speech on the unfair taxing of feminine hygiene products.

Meanwhile, AUHSD’s Brookhurst Junior High School sent four students to the middle school finals and ended the day with winners in first, second and third place.

Top middle school honors went to Brookhurst’s Helena Hernandez, who delivered a speech on the phenomenon known as “Bully-cide.” Alex Jeha tied for second place for his presentation on police brutality. And third-place honors went to Samantha Coronel, who addressed the treatment of asylum-seekers. Brookhurst’s Daryl Do was also named a finalist.

The local Project Soapbox competition once again featured guest judges from the community. Following initial rounds in breakout rooms, the finals was held in Santiago’s auditorium.