Art Contest

While attending a noncredit college art class after retiring, a member of the Ocean City Optimist Club had the opportunity to observe the art talents of the freshmen students. It was obvious that this talent was gained while these students attended High School. The idea of providing an environment where this high school art could be exhibited, and encouraged, was presented to the Optimist Club Board of Directors for consideration as a new youth program for our area.

The three county High Schools were approached with the concept, and after gaining support of the art teachers, the Optimist Club approved the program. The first art exhibit/contest opened at a local gallery in January 2006. Ralph Green was the Optimist Club member who presented the idea to the club and was appointed Chairperson of the program.

The contest is an exhibit of paintings and drawings from art students representing the Worcester County high schools. Each January art teachers from the high schools are contacted and provided with the rules for the contest. The teachers may select from their class up to twenty entries in two categories, painting and drawings. Only one entry per student is allowed. Any art student in the class is eligible.

Three judges select 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner ribbons in each category. There are also up to 4 Honorary Mention Ribbons presented, as well as a Peoples Choice Award in each of the categories. 1st place winners receive $500, 2nd place $300, 3rd place $200. Peoples Choice Award winners receive $200. There are no cash awards for Honorable Mention winners.

The People's Choice Awards are selected by the viewing public. Cash awards are presented at a special dinner meeting of the Optimist Club so that the winning entries may be exhibited and viewed by the club membership.

To date there have been seven art contests. In all over 200 students have participated.

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Community Outreach Programs

Holiday Care Packages

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Youth Identification Program

The youth identification program started in 1988. The focus of the effort is to assist in the safety of children from Pre-K to 12 grade. Over 4500 children across 13 participating schools have taken part in this event.

A consent form is sent home, signed by a parent or guardian, and returned to the child's school. The ID process involves taking the child's fingerprints, a photographic image, and a video of the child. With the assistance of the Worcester County Sheriffs Dept., the school retains the child's video and the parents/guardians receive the fingerprint card and the photo.

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Essay Contest

The Essay Contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write their own opinions regarding the world in which they live and make a contribution. The topic selected each year is intended to give the writer the room to develop their own views around the central idea. In addition to the opportunity for written expression, participants have the opportunity to win a college scholarship of up to $6,000. The current event chairman is Robert Russell.

The first place winner in the Club contest receives $300, second place winner receives $200 and the third place winner receives $100. Each winner also receives a medallion and framed copy of a certificate of participation. The Club winners along with their parents/guardians and teachers are also treated to a dinner by the Club.

The Club winner has a chance to participate at the Optimist District Contest with the possibility of winning an additional $650 scholarship. The District winner goes on to the International Contest where prizes towards Scholarships are $6000 for 1st, $3750 for 2nd and $2250 for 3rd.

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Oratorical Contest

The Oratorical contest was started by Optimist International in 1928 and has become the longest running program sponsored by the group. The purpose of the contest is to inspire today's youth; to motivate and inspire others through the art of public speaking. It provides the speaker with an opportunity to compete for a college scholarship and to express their views on pre-assigned topics. The Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club has sponsored an Oratorical Contest since 1973. Many different club members have served as the Club Oratorical Chairman, with Richard Caproni serving as the current chairman since 2002.

The Oratorical Contest is actually several different competitions. Students are invited to participate through their local school. There is no minimum age, but a participant can not have turned 16 years of age before December 31st of the previous year. The Club conducts a preliminary contest. This year we have over 60 students signed up to compete. The top performers will be selected to compete in a Club Final, where one male and one female representative is selected to compete in a Zone contest against the other Club champions. The winners of the Zone contest then compete in a District Contest that represents Maryland and part of Delaware. The male and female winners of the District Contest receive a $1,500 college scholarship.

All participants must submit a completed application in order to participate. Applications are distributed to local schools in January of the contest year. Students are encouraged to join the competition by teachers and principals of their schools. Winners of the OC-Berlin Optimist Club Contest will receive $500 in proportioned prize money as well as Gold, Silver, and Bronze medallions to mark their achievement.

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Scholarship Program

The Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Youth Foundation Scholarship Program provides promising young students with funds needed to supplement the cost of undergraduate education while attending either a college or post-high school vocational program. This scholarship program was designed to look at a student’s total need for financial aid. This program runs on the philosophy of “providing the little extra that makes the difference.”

This program is funded solely through the proceeds of the annual Scholarship Lottery, as well as interest on the endowment that has built up over the years. A minimum of five scholarships are awarded each year. Our first scholarships were handed out in 1989, and to date, over 300 students have received scholarships totaling in excess of $1.5 million.

The Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club Scholarship Program believes in non-discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin or family status, in both principle and practice.

View all scholarship recipients...

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Stephen Decatur Awards Banquet

[Coming Soon]

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