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FPCA student excels at speaking

POSTED: December 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Joshua Rogers receives congratulations from Marion Pope, a former state Court of Appeals judge, after taking 3rd in an oratory competition.

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Public speaking often tops the list of people’s biggest fears. First Presbyterian Christian Academy senior Joshua Rogers, however, isn’t scared of performing under pressure. In fact, he excels in it.
Rogers, 17, displayed his oratorical skills on Nov. 29 at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, when he took third place and won a $2,000 scholarship in a statewide, high school oratorical contest conducted by Justice Served Inc., an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization.
“The contest consisted of two portions (speeches),” Rogers said. “The primary oration was on the importance of the separation of powers doctrine to protect and preserve the independence of the judiciary.”
The opening speech lasted from five to eight minutes. The second round of speeches, in which the topic was chosen by a draw, lasted three to five minutes.
“The second question for finalists was: What is the relationship between the current concept of judicial activism, or legislating from the bench, and the traditional concept of judge-made law known as common law?,” Rogers said.
Despite his extensive preparation and experience in such contests, Rogers said nerves were a factor.
“I was extremely nervous,” he said, “but after the first sentence of my speech, I could tell the judges were truly interested in what I had to say. From there, I began to feel extremely comfortable, and the speech just flowed.”
Rogers said it takes a lot more than the ability to overcome nerves to deliver a good speech.
 “Critical thinking was a major part of the competition,” he said. “I had to think on my feet when I forgot a line. I had to tell myself, ‘You know this material, so just go with it.’ I put into practice what my teachers and my mom had told me about my delivery, and it worked.”
Rogers said his primary role model is his father, but in the oratory department, President-elect Barack Obama has been a major influence.
“He’s a brilliant orator,” he said. “He has mastered the techniques that have inspired a nation. His use of body language, (tone) and effective gestures are just a few of the mechanics he uses to speak with purpose and a vision. He knows how to inspire and motivate.”
Rogers’ mother, Jerri, was also a source of inspiration. She spent countless hours rehearsing with him and giving him advice.
“He was so comfortable,” Jerri Rogers said of her son’s performance in Atlanta. “That’s what several of the judges said to me after the competition. They said he projected such confidence and was comfortable in what he was doing. It was written all over his face.”
Rogers hopes for a career in politics, but before he tackles Washington, D.C., he has a major decision to make: what college to attend.
Among the schools he is considering are The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.
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