On February 8th, after a fun whole-school ski day, several students proceeded back to the school to await the oncoming speech contest. After relaxing for a few hours it became obvious that the contestants were nervous. Their classmates tried to help them relax. Soon all participants arrived and practice recitations begin. Visitors started arriving, slowly at first, then all at once. Everyone took their seats and the contest began.
All LVHS students wrote a speech for English class, and delivered it the previous day at school. The students participating in the speech contest were chosen by several teachers as the best speakers, and the community was invited to see them speak at 6:30, this time in front of several judges: Nora Livingston, Rick Liebersbach, and Ricky McCoy.
Once everyone arrived, teacher Sarah Taylor was the first to speak. She thanked all visitors and judges for coming and emphasized how hard everyone worked. As the LVHS English teacher, she had witnessed the development of all the speeches from the very beginning. She briefly explained that there would be three speech topics, cell phones, gun control, and integrity.
After this brief introduction, the contest began. Rosalie Burch led the presentations with her argument about balancing cellphone use with other everyday activities. As soon as the first words left her mouth, absolute silence took over. Through the intense quiet only Rosalie’s voice could be heard. Her argument did not seem like a speech at all; it gave the impression of being entirely unscripted and sincere. With none of the usual boredom that comes with watching others talk with no chance to present other opinions or ideas, Rosalie’s words persuaded us all that the lack of stopping cues and their extreme portability make smartphones extremely useful and extremely dangerous. According to Rosalie, cell phone use is “not destroying a generation, it is simply changing one” and the rise of smartphones increases the importance of realizing that “life is all about balance.” As Rosalie brought her ideas to a conclusion, it was hard to imagine how the other contestants could top her extraordinary performance.
The audience was every bit as silent for the next speaker. Claire DesBaillets presented her views on integrity in such an unforgettable manner that many audience members were personally motivated to change their behavior. Through outstanding use of hand gestures and profound use of words, Claire clearly communicated her views on the unacceptable lack of integrity in current government. Her anger at society for valuing “power, fame, and wealth over integrity and civility” was obvious. By acting with complete confidence, she showed the audience how they too could overcome their fears and make a difference in a world where integrity is desperately in need of support.
Following Claire’s speech, Caelen McQuilkin argued the importance of increasing gun control in America. Her speech was long enough to encompass all necessary points, yet not even slightly boring. She presented evidence interactively, occasionally making the audience laugh without subtracting from the severity of the issue. By giving solid examples from today’s world and the world of the past, Caelen assured everyone that mass shootings would continue until restrictions on the number of guns spread throughout society were implemented, passionately arguing that “gun control is the only answer.” Her captivating approach to the topic made Caelen’s ideas more accessible to the public, making for a wonderfully effective entry to this year’s Speech Contest.
Sophia McKee’s presentation about integrity came next; pointing out serious issues with the way society today treats women. She seemed completely sincere and impossibly compelling as she called for a nationwide shift toward honorable behavior. According to Sophia’s speech, standing by and doing nothing makes us just as guilty as people actually committing a crime. Pointing out that everyone needs “to do the civil thing and be appalled” about what some men, particularly in Hollywood and politics, have been getting away with. Sophia’s obvious compassion and sincerity made her speech truly impactful and worthwhile.
After these came another speech about smartphone addiction. Though well into the second half of the contest, Ben Trefry was still able to present his ideas in a clear and meaningful manner. His speech persuasively argued that smartphones can “become a dangerous addiction in a heartbeat.” And how social media use can eventually lead to nervous breakdowns, warning society of the dangers they encounter daily in an attempt to pull them away from addictive behavior.
Karli Duro’s speech marked the conclusion of the contest. She argued that increasing gun control would be “making our nation safer,” and that we should ban bump stocks altogether. Guns that are made “specifically for mass murder” should not be available to the public. Karli emphasized the importance of keeping hunting rifles and smaller guns legal – as much as guns need to be regulated more, according to her speech, banning all of them is not the answer. Karli was clear to convey the importance of the issue through her tone of voice – made all the more passionate because some of her own family members were survivors of the Las Vegas shooting. She emphasized that “now is the time,” to implement gun control and save lives, stating, “If even one life is saved by banning bump stocks, isn’t that more important than someone’s right to have fun at the shooting range?”
After the contest portion came to a conclusion, there was time to relax. Cookies and drinks were provided; there was even a dog to take pictures of. Soon the judges returned from the deliberations, deeming the top two contestants to be Karli Duro (1st place) and Caelen McQuilkin (2nd place). All three judges shared their appreciation of the talented speakers and Nora Livingston made the encouraging comment that many community members would enjoy and benefit by attending the LVHS speech contest each year. Hearing the inspiring words of passionate young speakers can make a difference in all our lives. Maybe we’ll get an even bigger audience next year!
Congratulations to all speakers on a job well done!