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Student takes second in national pro-life oratory contest

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Grant Joseph Mantooth, a recent graduate of Seton School in Manassas, won second place in the 2017 National Right to Life Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest held at the organization’s annual national convention in Milwaukee June 29-July 1.

“The contest strives to encourage high school juniors and seniors to share their pro-life views with others. Although speaking ability is important, this contest also seeks to help teens organize and express their pro-life views,” according to the organization’s website.

Mantooth represented Virginia at the national competition after winning the May 13 statewide Alex and Geline Williams Pro-Life Oratory Contest sponsored by the Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL). Seton students have won the VSHL Oratory Contest in 2005, 2008, 2015 and 2016.

Mantooth’s speech described his grandfather, Col. William Houston Mantooth’s 11-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body disease, a rapid form of dementia. His essay detailed examples of his grandmother’s unwavering devotion to his care, despite her diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer eight years into her husband’s illness.
Col. Mantooth served in World War II, the Vietnam War and the Korean War — for more than 30 years in the military — yet fought his greatest battle after his diagnoses. On numerous occasions, physicians were reluctant to treat simple illnesses such as pneumonia. Rehabilitation facilities to which he was discharged temporarily after hospital stays failed to feed or hydrate him, causing bed sores and return trips to the hospital. Mrs. Mantooth, with the support of her family, took on medical personnel and refused to allow her husband to be forgotten or neglected.

“It was a tremendous honor to represent Seton School and the Commonwealth of Virginia and to tell my grandparents’ story. My grandfather’s life exemplified love of God and love for one’s fellow man, and my grandmother’s devotion to her husband stands as a shining example of speaking for the voiceless and protecting life,” Montooth said.

Montooth is attending the University of Virginia in Charlottesville this fall. While at Seton, he was an officer in the Student Government and Service Committee and the National Honor Society. He was a varsity swim team co-captain and played varsity soccer and JV basketball. He expects to attain rank of Eagle Scout, having completed his Eagle Scout project in June. Mantooth was also a finalist for five of his six years at Seton in the school’s annual persuasive contest, and he won second place overall his freshman year.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017