Justin English speaks for Jack & Jill mothers recently. Photo by Kelly Forbes

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITY – Justin English has dreams of becoming a music producer one day, and if one of his artists wins a Grammy, they may want the high school sophomore speak on their behalf.

English, a student at Atlantic City High School, is capturing the speech world as he prepares for the music business, winning the Jack and Jill of America Inc. Delaware Valley Regional Cluster 2019 Teen Oratorical Contest last October. Now he is ready to take on other winners the regional competition in Washington, D.C. on May  21-24.

“Justin never shied away from an opportunity to speak,” said mentor Kelly Forbes, who got to know English when the Atlantic City Jack and Jill Chapter started a Gavel Club last summer. “From the beginning he showed talent as a public speaker. In addition, he showed great listening skills as he was able to provide his fellow ‘Gaveliers’ with helpful feedback after their speeches.”

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‘Reclaiming Our Time’

The 15-year-old crafted a speech around the theme “Reclaiming Our Time,” where he was able to win in his age group at the regional cluster held at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel last fall.

“When I was younger all my teachers would make me present in front of the class my projects and other things of that nature and I realized I was good at talking to crowds,” English told Front Runner New Jersey.com. “I just kind of went for it and found I was good at it.”

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While most people his age – or most any age – are fearful of public speaking because of numerous factors, English said he has a rather simple formula for getting up in front of people.

“My mentality is to kind of just go for it, you know,” Justin said. “You only live once so make the most of the moment.” 

Justin English at the Jack & Jill Regional Oratorical competition in Atlantic City. Photo by Shanee Muhammed

Forbes said that English’s personality puts everyone at ease.

“It is one of his best attributes,” Forbes said. “In addition, he is very smart and I enjoy talking with him about a whole range of subjects.”

Bringing to Tears

Justin’s mother Tammy Rivers-English said she cried with joy and pride the when she first heard her son’s competition speech.

“The first time I heard Justin’s speech was on the day of the competition while we were driving on our way,” she said. “I knew he listened to music, but to hear his love for it and how it all started. I never knew and it bought me to tears.”

Justin English celebrating his big oratorical victory with his mother Tammy Rivers-English. Photo by Kelly Forbes.

English said his family has been his biggest supporters because “they always have back” and helping him improve his skill. Justin said he believes his speaking skills can come in handy in his currently chosen field.

“I’d love to use them in the music industry as a music producer because it would allow me to clearly and easily make conversation with whoever I am working with,” he said.

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For Rivers-English, those goals are fine with her.

“Whatever makes him happy that adds value to the world,” she said. “Life is way too short to put limitations on Justin, so I want him to be happy and helping others however he sees fit.”

A Bright Future By Speaking Up

As far as competitive speaking, English’s next stop is the nation’s capital where he will take part in the Jack and Jill Eastern Regional Teen Conference Oratorical Contest May 21-24, 2020 at the Washington Hilton Hotel. He will compete against other winners throughout the Eastern seaboard for a cash prize.

“Justin can and will go very far in life,” Forbes said. “Whatever he puts his mind to, he will succeed. I would love to see him use his public speaking skills to mentor younger children.”

English said he doesn’t see himself as a role model but a “regular joe schmoe,” but is probably too young to realize yet that he has already inspired others younger and older with his oratorical gifts.

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