Five local students chose their topics and practised their speeches in anticipation of the Rotary 4-Way Speech contest at the North Ridgeville Senior Center on March 16.
North Ridgeville High School seniors Olivia Jarrell and Patrick Kopp and juniors Heather Crow, Alyssa Kowalski and Alicia Melendez chose their topics, practised their speeches and presented impassioned narratives on several of today’s issues.
Jarrell spoke first about the recent school shootings, while Kopp related how a bias in presenting the news today is harming our country.
Crow expressed her views on social media influences, particularly bullying, while Kowalski spoke movingly about teen suicide.
Lastly, Melendez told the audience that too much homework today is putting very heavy stress on students.
Afterward, the six judges retired to evaluate the speeches with a three-page judging sheet that required them to rate the speakers within a range of points for excellent, good or fair.
The categories included content, organisation and delivery.
The Rotary’s 4-Way Test was applied to arrive at the rating points, as each speaker had to explain how their topic (1) was the truth, (2) was fair to all concerned (3) would build goodwill and friendship and (4) was beneficial to all.
Judges included high school Principal Tom Szendry and outgoing Superintendent James Powell. Pat Bahr, a former North Ridgeville principal, coordinated the event.
The judges obviously took their role seriously, as it took them some time to decide the winner.
The ratings resulted in Melendez and Kopp coming in as runners-up and being awarded $25 each.
Third place went to Crow, with a $75 prize, and second place went to Jarrell, with a $100 prize.
Kowalski took first place and won the top prize of $150.
When asked how she felt about her win, she said, “It was a really personal story and it just came from my heart.”
Kowalski will now move on to the district competition on April 7 in Aurora, Ohio.