BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Some of the area’s top public speakers are still in high school. As part of our Continuing Community Commitment, WJZ sponsors the Black History Oratory Contest.

Jessica Kartalija reports this year’s winner has an incredibly bright future.

There was tough competition at this year’s Black History Oratory Contest but in the end, 15-year-old Jakim Burns’ speech about President Barack Obama took the grand prize.

“The drum roll and then she called my name. It’s still unbelievable,” Burns said.

His certificate hangs proudly in the family living room.

“I am still really excited about it,” Burns said.

Emceed by WJZ’s own Gigi Barnett, Maryland high school students chose one of three quotes from leaders in the African-American community.

“I wanted to speak with the black men in the community and talk about what we can do as a group and President Barack Obama, he was perfect. He is a perfect example of where black men should be,” Burns said.

“I was so excited. I was so proud of him. He’s a wonderful young man; he’s a competitive young man,” said his mother.

Twenty finalists presented their speeches. Burns won more than $2,000 in scholarship money.

“It’s wonderful because these days, it’s so expensive to go to school. It’s like 100 times more than when we were trying to go to school,” said his mother.

He says he wants to become an attorney or an engineer.

Burns says he will enter the contest again next year. He’s already started looking at colleges and wants to be a Florida Gator.

Second place went to Destanee Hamilton and third place went to Dajahnae Wing.

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