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Holmes County students shine in district-wide 4-H/FPL speech contest

Some of the district’s brightest students showcased their writing and public speaking skills in this year’s district-wide Holmes County 4-H/Florida Power & Light 2022 Public Speaking Competition.

Families of 10 total finalists gathered at Carmel Assembly of God Church Dec. 5 to hear speeches carefully crafted by fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from all schools in the district.

Holmes County 4-H Agent Chris Lauen said he met with leadership from the Holmes County School District and persuaded them to implement the 4-H speech contest for fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Holmes County. Lauen worked with the curriculum coordinator and school guidance counselors to schedule speech contests at the classroom level, then school contests all culminating in a county-wide contest.

Lauen said 579 youth participated in the Holmes County 4-H/FPL classroom public speaking competition and gained valuable knowledge used to select speech topics. Students were free to speak on anything they were passionate about to deliver a speech that was humorous, serious, educational, inspiring or persuasive. Students gained practice researching their chosen topics, organizing the information, critiquing their work and practicing their public speaking skills in front of a real audience.

Three judges from the local business community volunteered their time to listen to each student’s speech, carefully weighing it according to a rubric that scored speeches based on aspects such as topic originality, the quality and flow of ideas, audience engagement, speaking with confidence and staying within the allotted time. Each student brought something truly unique to the competition.

In the fourth grade category, Kayzli P. delivered the winning speech entitled “Koala’s World.” Kayzli taught the audience things they never knew about the secret lives of koala bears. Kayzli is a student at Bethlehem School.

Mackenzie B., a fourth-grader at Ponce de Leon Elementary School, gave an educational speech called “Earth Conservation” about things people can do to help save the environment they live in. Mackenzie took home the second place trophy in the fourth grade category.

The third place fourth grade winner was Elaina P. from Poplar Springs School. Elaina spoke about “God & Jesus,” sharing with the audience how important her spiritual faith is in her life.

In the fifth grade category, Cason H. from Bethlehem School was the most animated speaker. Cason delivered the speech, “Memories With My Brangus Pets,” in which he talked about the personalities of his pets and fun times he had raising cattle. Cason earned first place out of the fifth grade speakers.

Hadley S., fifth grader from Bonifay K-8 School, took home second place with her speech, “I Want to be a Teacher.” Hadley confidently delivered why this is her future career choice.

The third place fifth grade winner was Anna C., who entertained the audience with “What Would Happen if I Stopped Brushing My Teeth.” Members of the audience likely spent extra time with their toothbrushes before bedtime that night.

The fifth grade category had four speech competitors. Dalton A., fifth grader at Ponce de Leon Elementary, told the audience all about “Vienna Sausages,” his favorite snack that can also double as bait on a fishing trip. Dalton was awarded a lifetime Florida fishing license for his display of bravery in persevering through his speech.

FinleyAnne B., a sixth-grader at Bonifay K-8 School, took first place in the sixth grade category. FinleyAnne delighted the audience with her speech, “Living in My Brother’s Shadow,” in which she describes how her big brother inspires her to strive to be her best in school and in life.

Divine N., sixth grader at Poplar Springs School, educated the audience about “Igbo (Ebo) Culture.” Divine wore a beautifully colorful dress to illustrate customary garb worn in her family’s culture.

Keaton P., sixth-grader at Bethlehem School, clutched the third place win in the sixth grade category with one of the most creative speeches of the night. In “Space Survivor,” Keaton took the audience on a journey with him to outer space in the form of a short story.

Each competitor was already a winner in the eyes of their families, schools and Holmes County 4-H for making it to the district-wide public speaking competition.

Florida Power & Light joined 4-H last year as the statewide corporate sponsor to provide competition winners with ribbons and trophies.

After hearing speeches all over the state, Tracy Andrews, external affairs manager for FPL, was happy to hear speeches from students right at home. The 4-H public speaking program has been in Florida schools since 1969.

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