By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Five Jefferson County students made their Four-Way Test Speech presentations at the noon Mt. Vernon Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday, hoping to advance to District competition.
Students are divided into two levels — novices and competition —the former for those who have had no speech contest experience and the latter for those who have experience or working with a speech team coach.
Four of the five speeches given Tuesday were in the novice division and presented by Makayla Smith of Mt. Vernon Township High School, Shanae Jones of Waltonville HIgh School, Matthew Renaud of Woodlawn High School and Felicia Wagner of Mt. Vernon Township High School. William Box of Mt. Vernon Township High School participated in the competition division. Another MVTHS student in the competition division, Quentin Lloyd, was absent.
Smith based her experiences as a child care worker at Central Christian Church as the basis for her service to community.
"Children can be sweet or they fight among themselves. What do they fight over? Toys, not about the differences between them. We lose the quality of sharing as adults. What happened to sharing? What happened to kindness? Service can be as easy as helping someone who is hurting," she said.
Jones, who works with several groups including the cheerleading squad, Relay for Life and FFA said her cheerleading coach teaches honesty and dedication, which can be carried over to all types of service. She concluded, "Only a life living for someone else can be true service."
Renaud chose to show the differences of The Grinch, someone "nasty and selfish" to Jesus Christ, who passes the four-way test with flying colors. He defined peace as "the intent and sincerity of the heart," adding, "You can't just suggest peace, you have to show it."
Wagner gave examples of those who have shown service to others, specifically naming Mother Teresa and Oprah Winfrey.
"One act of kindness can lead to that person serving someone else," Wagner said. "Everyone has something to give. One act of courage can help someone else. Through service, we can achieve peace."
Finally, Box — without the use of note cards unlike the remaining contestants — described how individuals can find peace through volunteering.
The theme of this year's contest was "Peace Through Service."
Renaud was named the winner in the novice division and Box was named the winner in the competition division, according to club member Kevin Settle. The two will advance to the District competition on April 27 at John A. Logan College in Carterville.
President Carl Miller provided the contestants with parting gifts, and their classroom teachers were recognized.