Students Compete in the Oldest Speaking Competition in Texas

Suzie Brewer ’25 and Claire Hill ’25 participated at the 99th Annual Battle of Flowers Oratorical Contest.

This spring, students across Texas are helping buildings speak for themselves in the 99th Annual Battle of the Flowers Association Oratorical Competition. One of the state’s oldest oratorical competitions sets a new topic each year based on Texas History; this year’s theme is “Chiseled in Stone: Iconic Texas Architecture.” With a focus on structures that “aren’t simply buildings, but carry a narrative, history and purpose that serve as a biography of Texas.”

Accompanied by Carrie Moore, communication studies instructor, two students will compete this year on behalf of TCU: Suzie Brewer ’25 and Claire Hill ’25. This is Brewer’s second time competing, as she placed 5th in last year’s competition.

The competition requires contestants to write an abstract explaining their topics and deliver 10-to 12-minute speeches from memory.

Lonestar Landmarks

Both students chose to focus on local landmarks. Brewer will speak on “Texas Centennial Park: A Chiseled Example of America’s Golden Age of Architecture,” and Hill will speak on “Step Into the West: Step into the Fort Worth Stockyards.”

“My childhood is full of memories of chasing butterflies through the Texas Discovery Gardens, searching for sea monsters at the Leonhardt Lagoon, and watching hit Broadway sensations at the Music Hall,” Brewer says in her speech about the personal significance of the Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park in Dallas. “And, of course, I still visit each fall to eat a classic Fletcher’s corndog on the Midway at the annual State Fair of Texas.”

Where Brewer’s connection to her landmark came from her connection as a Dallas resident, Hill picked the Stockyards as their significance to her as a TCU student in Fort Worth.

“The stockyards immediately came to mind because they have so much rich history. Also, being so close to the stockyards as a TCU student, I felt a connection and passion for the stockyards more than any other historical landmark in Texas,” Hill said about her choice.

Building Success

Moore generally recruits students from her “Advanced Public Speaking” course to participate in the contest. Often, students will begin to workshop their speeches in the fall for the upcoming spring competition.

“The contest serves as a service example of how I strive to provide students additional opportunities to refine their speaking beyond the classroom,” Moore said. “Students must ethically research and write their speech, critically analyze their audience and creatively deliver their message.”

Since 2012, Moore has helped 20 students compete, with 13 students making it to the final round, along with:

  • Three first-place wins: Vivian Noyd ’21 (2021), Michael Brown ’20 (2020) and John Biebighauser ’19 (2016);
  • Four second-place wins: Michael Brown ’20 (2019), Stephanie Milligan ’16 (2016, 2014) and Daniel Salazar ’15 (2015)
  • Two fifth place wins: Suzie Brewer ’24 (2023) and Jaclyn Cravello ’13 (2013); and
  • One each in third, Michael Gonzalez ’19 (2019), and fourth, Michael Brown’20 (2018).

Students in the top five win from $750 to $5,000. The department for the top three winners also receives a monetary award. In total, Schieffer College students have won $26,300 in student scholarships and $7,250 awarded to the department of communication studies.