For Matthew Provenzano, the fourth time's a charm.
The Seaford High School senior won first place in the 2012 Theodore Roosevelt Public Speaking Contest sponsored by Friends of Sagamore Hill. He competed in each of the past four years, and his previous best finish, as a junior, was third place.
To participate, each student presented a five-minute memorized speech on the 26th U.S. president and his principles. Provenzano received $1,000 and a bronze bust of Roosevelt.
"The competition is so much more than the spoken word," he said. "It's like mental and physical acrobatics. You have to think about your delivery, your voice, your stance, where you put your hands, your timing and elocution."
Provenzano's speech explored how the president dealt with social injustices by referencing his past speeches and letters, among other things.
Seaford Principal Michael Ragon tapped Provenzano for the contest when he was in ninth grade, after hearing him speak to incoming freshmen.
"He has an inherent, natural talent for public speaking," Ragon said.
Assistant Principal Carisa Burzynski added: "I videotaped his speech and will use it as a training tool to groom other students for the contest."