Marion County Teen Wins Second Place in National Oratory Competition

A Woodburn teenager has taken home the silver in a national pro-life oratory contest. 

Miriam Plato, age 17, earned the second-place honor in the Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest the weekend of June 23-24 at the National Right to Life conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Miriam, now a senior at Chesterton Academy of the Willamette Valley in Mt. Angel, spoke on abortion’s inherent tendency to destroy societies economically, socially and morally.

 “Going into nationals, I didn’t know what to expect. Not wanting to be disappointed, I told myself not to expect to win or even get a place,” Miriam says. “So when I got second place, I was very surprised.”

 Miriam’s school heavily advertises the Oregon Right to Life Education Foundation (ORTLEF) student contests each year (see page 5), including the oratory competition that sends its winner to the national level. Approximately one month before the state contest, she spent many hours researching statistics and studies about Planned Parenthood, prenatal development and the effects of abortion on other nations. She then wrote, edited and tweaked her speech until she was satisfied, winning at the state level.

 “When I was an underclassman, I had friends who did [the ORTLEF oratory competition] and said it was a great experience,” Miriam says. “I have always loved the pro-life movement and was super-excited to advocate for the unborn in a new way. Not only would I improve my speaking skills, but I would also be able to make my voice heard in defense of the unborn.”

 An accomplished pianist, organist and singer, Miriam plans to study music after high school. She still plans to remain active in the pro-life movement and is grateful for the boost that ORTLEF’s student contest gave her.

“The oratory contest was a wonderful opportunity that I am so glad I took,” she says. “I definitely grew as a person.”

To learn more about ORTLEF’s student contests, go to


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