Brookings Optimist Club news for 06-02-23: Local student wins contest for deaf, hard of hearing

From left are DMM District Gov. Nicole Kingstad; Taya Haselhorst, Brookings High School freshman and first-place winner; Joel Dalloff, Vermillion High School junior and third-place winner; Sam Kleis, Dakota Dunes senior and second-place winner — all of whom will be attending SDSU — and Greg Honl, chairperson of the DMM District CCDHH scholarship contest.

BROOKINGS — Taya Haselhorst, a freshman at Brookings High School, recently won the Dakotas Manitoba Minnesota Optimist District’s Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing. The theme of this year’s contest was “Discovering the Optimism within Me.”

Haselhorst will receive a $2,500 scholarship for her presentation, at the South Dakota Services for the Deaf in Sioux Falls.

“Haselhorst presentation on the journey she walks each day using optimistic thoughts. She described how using optimism has proven that overcoming challenges today will award her a bright future”, stated Sally Damm Norby, a local Optimist member for the CCDHH.

The DMM has been participating in the Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing for years. The contest is open to students who have a hearing loss of 40 decibels or more, and students can sign or speak their presentation, or communicate through a combination of speech and sign language.

Each year, around 300 Optimist Clubs participate in the Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing. There must be three contestants to hold the DMM contest. Carrying the motto “Bringing Out the Best in Youth, in our Communities, and in Ourselves.”

Optimists conduct positive service projects that reach more than six million young people each year. To learn more about Optimist International, call (314) 371-6000 or visit the organization’s website at