Phoebe Corgiat, a senior at Paso Robles High School, recently won first place in the Optimist International District Oratorical Contest. The theme was, “Just Imagine a World Without Boundaries.”

Corgiat was awarded $2,500 for the honor. Also, Corgiat will go to the Regional Championships, where she will compete against winners from other Optimist Clubs across the nation for a chance to win an additional $5,000 or up to another $15,000 scholarship.

The Oratorical Competition is traditionally a live event, but this year had to change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The District Oratorical Committee was determined not to cancel this contest, which provides financial support to so many students. The committee spent two months organizing the first-ever Zoom Oratorical Competition. This meant learning the new platform, then coaching the judges, timekeeper and students. 

In the end, the Paso Robles contestant was able to shine. 

“Phoebe did a wonderful job presenting her speech about the questions posed to her,” District Chairman William Pluma said. “The members of our Optimist Club have no doubt that Phoebe has a bright future ahead of her. She’s a born leader.”

Corgiat’s activities at Paso Robles High School include varsity volleyball, sports editor for the Crimson, youth volleyball referee and coach, SPED Teachers Assistant, Link Crew Leader, assisting incoming freshman, Field Studies Collaborative, botanical surveys for the National Park Service, Project Surf Camp, Younglife and working part-time at Refugio Kitchen.

The Optimist Club of Paso Robles has been participating in the Optimist Oratorical Contest for eight years and has been active in the community since 1991. Other programs and service projects that the Club is involved in include the support of the Toy Bank of Greater Paso Robles, Optimist Backpack Program, Kids Fishing Derby, Honey Festival Spelling Bee and Dance Contest, Optimist Essay Contest and High School Scholarships. 

Optimist International is one of the world’s largest service club organizations with over 80,000 adult and youth members in almost 3,000 clubs in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico and throughout the world. 

The Optimist Oratorical Contest is one of the organization’s most popular programs, with more than 2,000 clubs participating annually. Carrying the motto “Bringing Out the Best in Youth, in our Communities, and in Ourselves,” Optimists conduct positive service projects that reach more than six million young people each year. To learn more about Optimist International, visit the organization’s website at