On Sunday, February 28th nine brave kids from Pelham took part in the annual Public Speaking Contest sponsored by the Legion as part of its Youth and Education program. The event is meant to provide young people with an opportunity to learn to speak in public.
The judges had an unenviable task that day as every single contestant gave an excellent performance. Topics ranged from bargain hunting at garage sales to dealing with peanut allergies.
“It was hard to reach a decision,” said Judge Lynwen Jones. “They were all very close. When the four of us got together it was decided by a fraction out of all our scores.”
However, after a lengthy deliberation two speakers were ultimately awarded first place in their respective categories, with eighth grader Spencer Kleniewski winning the Senior division and Natalie Anderson winning the Junior division. When asked what set them apart, Jones pointed to their unique topics:
“The originality of the topics they were speaking about helped, but aside from that they were all excellent. We wished we could have given them all a prize.”
According to Spencer, who spoke about the importance of positivity, his topic was born out of early struggles he faced with the assignment.
“When I was writing the speech I wasn’t really feeling that positive with myself,” he said. “Then I thought ‘what about positivity, being positive about it’?”
Natalie chose to talk about her experiences with fine dining.
“It was kind of funny and you could learn something out of it too,” she said. While Natalie knew that she had given a good performance, the quality of competition left her in suspense right up until her name was called:
“I felt like it would be close, because there were a lot of good speeches.”
Both speakers will now be moving on the next level of competition.