Students from three high schools participated in this event, designed to assist young adults to develop and hone public speaking skills while researching a subject that is of personal interest to them.
The speeches center around the Rotary Four-Way Test, which is a world-wide moral code used by Rotarians that can be tested in personal and business relationships.
The “test” asks four questions: 1) Is it (the topic) the truth? 2) Is it fair to all concerned? 3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
These questions are used by Rotarians to define what charities and businesses they support; students participating in the speech contest used these questions to better define their speeches and their feelings toward the topics they chose.
“The Four-Way Test is an integral part of Rotary,” said Dan Haglage, Speech Event Coordinator for Batavia Rotary. “The students spent a lot of time on their topics this year, and it really showed because their speeches came from the heart.”
Batavia Rotary President Michael Enriquez opened the meeting. Reverend David Pfaneuf, Batavia Methodist Church pastor and Past President of Batavia Rotary, delivered the invocation and served as speech timekeeper. District Governor Peter Weiglin gave the parents, students, and Rotary members in attendance a brief history of the Four-Way Test.
Dean Greg Sojka of UC Clermont (also a Batavia Rotary member) welcomed the students and families to the college and invited them to schedule campus tours in the future.
Prior to the start of the meeting, the participants drew numbers to choose the speech order. Christina Hedges, a senior at Batavia High School, was the first to present.
Her topic was “Forgiveness” and how applying the Rotary Four-Way Test can be used when deciding to forgive others in everyday life.
“Texting While Driving” was presented by Christina Gentry, a senior at Clermont Northeastern High School (CNE) who applied her own personal family experience with the consequences that can occur by someone who texts while driving.
Ben Ward, also a senior from CNE, spoke about “Personal Philosophies” and how the Rotary Four-Way Test goes hand in hand with your personal feelings about viewpoints and attitudes of others.
CNE senior Autumn Kenser presented “Music in Our Schools,” sharing how important music is to her life and how often this program is cut from schools during budget shortfalls.
Mason Vilardo was the last to speak. Vilardo, a senior from Miami Valley Christian Academy (MVCA), discussed “Spinal Cord Injuries” and how his own injury and relationships with his doctors related to the Rotary Four-Way Test.
Batavia Rotary members in the audience scored each presentation on many principles including poise, enunciation, bodily expression, use of voice, and ability to impress the audience. Members also judged each participant on their understanding of the Four-Way Test, how they applied it to their topic, and the originality of their topic in general.
After all scores were tallied, Kenser of CNE placed first and received a $300 prize. She will advance to the District Speech Contest which takes place on April 7 at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.
Gentry of CNE placed second and received a $200 prize. She will serve as District Alternate, if Kenser is unable to attend the District Contest.
The three runners-up were Hedges, Vilardo, and Ward, who received a $100 prize from the Batavia Rotary.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Holly Kopcha of Batavia Schools, Tina Runsey from CNE, and Carol Glenzer from MVCA,” said Haglage. “They worked with each student to help them present speeches that were interesting, informative, and well organized.”
If you are interested in more information about the Four-Way Speech Contest or Batavia Rotary, visit www.batavia-rotary.org.