Each year from 1904 to 1975, the Stark Family – beginning with Miriam Lutcher Stark and continuing with her son, Lutcher, and his wife, Nelda – sponsored a contest in reading and a contest in declamation in the public high schools in the City of Orange, Texas.
In 1976, the Miriam Lutcher Stark Contest in Reading and Declamation became a qualified scholarship program of the Stark Foundation. The Contest is now held each spring at each of the five public high schools in Orange County, Texas. The aim of the Stark Reading Contest is to encourage student participation and competition to enhance the literary and forensic quality and skills of the students.
Upon completion of the contest in the participating school, the First Place winners in both reading and declamation compete in a countywide final for the determination of the best presentation in declaiming and the best presentation in interpretative reading. Individuals placing in first and second place in the countywide final of the Contest receive scholarships, and all 10 finalists receive gold watches, in continuing a long-held tradition from the early years of the Contest.
The Stark Reading Contest, which has continued annually since its inception in 1904, offers an enhanced educational opportunity and experience for students at Orange County public schools. During the period from 2001-2009, more than 1,500 students competed in this distinguished event.