Aaron Cornelius, a junior at TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas, won first place in an oratorical contest at the Southwest Regional Xinos-Kudos Conference, a youth event sponsored by the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, held Feb. 22-24 in Little Rock, Ark.
He represented San Antonio’s Gamma Tau chapter in the Kudos division for boys in grades nine through 12. Participants were required to speak from memory, with no more than 100 words written on note cards or paper.
Cornelius chose the topic of the importance of motivation to young people. “Like determination, motivation allows us to push through the hardest times of our lives,” he said. “Motivation is the most vital driving force for accomplishing any goal…finally finishing that essay on a long Sunday night, pushing myself harder than I ever have in the fourth quarter of a game, becoming a prosperous up-and-coming African American male and increasing the chance of joyful lives for my children and my children’s children.”
At TMI, Cornelius is a member of the National Honor Society and was a recipient of a merit scholarship. He is a cadet master sergeant and commander of the Saber Guard in the Corps of Cadets (JROTC), As a varsity football player last fall, he received Academic All State recognition from the TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) conference. He also plays basketball and runs track.
About 500 high-school students attended the annual conference, whose theme was “Fifty Years Later: Still I R.I.S.E. (Remember, Inspire, Select and Encourage), recognizing the ”Little Rock Nine” on the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School.
At the conference, students compete in oratorical presentations, debate current issues, attend educational workshops, visit local colleges and universities, and display talents through music, song, dance, arts and crafts.
The National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa is an organization of professional female educators with 133 chapters throughout the United States, Barbados and Liberia. Its southwest region comprises 23 chapters in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The youth conference is part of the sorority’s Y.E.S. (Youth Education and Service) Program of leadership training, encouraging academic achievement, social growth and community service.