The Four-Way-Test Speech Contest encourages high school students to prepare and give speeches that apply the Four-Way Test to everyday activities and issues. Students are judged based on professional appearance, content of topic, timing of delivery, eye contact, clarity of speech, voice inflection and other parameters. Winners of each local Rotary Club will compete at Sub-Regional events and the top candidates will compete at a District Level and beyond. Beyond awarding educational scholarships the purpose of the Four-Way-Test is to help young leaders gain professional speaking experience. Mark Umek is the Chair of the 4-Way Speech Contest, and he introduced the five judges for the competition:
Diane Halverson (City Clerk), Peter Sidoruk, Irv Erdos, Tina Pope and Dick Daniels. Timekeeper was Roy Henderson. There were 6 contestants representing three Escondido High Schools, Escondido High School, Escondido Charter High School and Escondido Adventist Academy. The Contestants were: Kayelynn Lawson, Zoe Grant, Kaylie Ricardez, Brian Garcia, Katrina Kellner, and Ethan Mikel.
Speaker #1 developed the theme of being Fearless in life, of the importance of overcoming fear of failure which prevents many people from trying at all. She pointed out that fear of failure closes you off to opportunities in life. Fear of failure keeps you in a “fixed” mindset, as opposed to a “growth” mindset. Don’t let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.
Speaker #2 spoke about the importance of small acts of kindness and encouragement. We don’t need to necessarily be doing big things to help others. Kind words, a smile, and encouragement make a big impact. Small acts can transform the World. Ending with a quote from Mother Teresa, she reminded us that kind words are short and easy to speak, but they echo endlessly.
Speaker #3 argued for the importance of putting the Arts, such as music and theater, back in to schools. Over the past 10 years, music programs in schools with significant free and reduced lunch participation have dropped significantly. Year after year, there are cuts to music in schools. Most successful schools have music and arts programs. In our quest for “standardizing” students towards tests, we have removed what we value in life from our education system.
Speaker #4 spoke about the importance of forgiveness to allow us to move forward after adversity hits our lives. He spoke movingly about his single-mother’s sacrifices for him including putting him in a private school, despite her very limited income and his father being in prison for 20 years. He acknowledged that living life through a fog of anger makes him a prisoner too. His mother taught him that forgiveness, letting go of the anger, creates good will and sets you free.
Speaker #5 talked about the millions of teenagers struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Teen rates of suicide have doubled in the past 40 years, and it is now the second-leading cause of death for teens and young adults. To save lives, we need to acknowledge depression. It is a serious illness, not teen angst. There are many signs of depression, and asking how someone has been feeling lately, and not turning away and offering words of encouragement can help teens with a little self-worth and less loneliness. A very large majority of people seeking treatment find relief in therapy and medication. There are resources available to teens with depression.
Speaker #6 developed the theme of the lack of deeper personal meaning in our contemporary music. Our culture is a culture of things, emphasizing appearance over substance. Music is our prevalent art form of our times, and it offers the power to evoke emotions and thoughts and inspire someone to do something good. But our popular music today is shallow, sometimes with violent lyrics. Streaming music has not helped, as most sales, streams, and airplay focus on 1.1% of today’s musicians, leaving the remainder undiscovered. Better music is out there, and everyone deserves it. The positive benefits of meaningful music are many.
First Place winner was Kayelynn Lawson, Speaker #3, and Second Place was Zoe Grant, Speaker #2. Both will move on to the sub-regionals, with a chance to compete at regionals and district level.
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