This year the competition at the annual Lions Club Youth Speech Contest was stiffer than ever. Usually drawing good number of participants, this year six students signed up to tackle the question Respect: where has it gone? The winner of the contest is only the winner of that specific club. From there, the student goes on to compete against other local club winners in the zone competition, then the region competition, district competition, and if they make it that far, the final state competition. At that level the stakes are high, and a single winner will receive $1,500 in prize money. According to the Massachusetts division of the Lions Club International, “Each District has between 30 and 60 clubs, each of which is permitted to conduct a local Lions Youth Speech Competition. During the 2011-2012 Lions year approximately 500 students from across the state participated in our competition.” As you can see, the Lions Club Speech contest is much larger than just the preliminary rounds held at our high school.
All grades except the tenth were represented at the contest on November 5, and this year was significant because it was first time that ninth graders had the option to participate. The seniors who spoke were past winner Emily Tiedtke, Annabelle Torres, and Lindsay Glover, while Angela Mirisola and myself were the junior participants. Ninth grader Sierra Little-Gill became the first freshman competitor.
I had a great experience doing the Lions Club speech last year, so I decided to partake in it again this year. I’m really glad I decided to do it, because it was very eye-opening to hear what everyone had to say about where they think respect is today. Lindsey and Annabelle emphasized their feminist beliefs and how they felt that today women aren’t respected so don’t respect themselves. Emily cited technology as the downfall of respect, and Angela voiced her opinion on how respect is not something people even take the time to consider in this day in age. Sierra impressed everyone by relating her opinion on respect to personal experiences, and stating she was hopeful that we could save our generation from allowing respect to disappear completely.
In the words of Roy Morell, organizer of the speech contest, the event this year embodied “quality, not quantity.” As the judges tallied up the points, I truly had no idea of how the results would turn out, so I was shocked when they announced me as the winner! Sierra Little-Gill was the runner up, and all recipients received cash prizes at the generosity of the Hanover Lions Club. I am really excited to see what the next level of competition brings, and I always find it so interesting to hear about what other people my age have to say on the topic at hand. I strongly encourage anyone considering participating next year to go for it, and would also like to give a special thank you to Mr. Paquette and Mr. Barrett, who made the contest possible.