February 27, 2009

Mr. President, We Have Our Winners

Speech champions demonstrate public speaking skills while ‘advising’ President Obama

Kaelyn Kappes of Olympic View Elementary, Emmelie Finley of Ella B. Allen School, and Juliene Labaria of Veterans Elementary each took first place in their respective grade level in the 26th Annual District Speech Contest.

Kaelyn is the 4th grade champion, Emmelie won the 5th grade contest, and Juliene took top honors for the 6th grade. They each had to outperform a record number of contestants. The finals took place Monday, February 23, in Room C of the Education Service and Support Center.


DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: Participants in the 26th Annual District Speech Contest answered the question, What advice would you give the new president of the United States? From ending the war in Iraq, to fighting diabetes, lowering taxes, and increasing funding for education, the students were poised in expressing their views. Kaelyn Kappes (left) took the 4th grade championship, Emmelie Finley (right) won the 5th grade contest, and Juliene Labaria (center) was the 6th grade winner.

Superintendent Lowell J. Billings, ED.D, said each of the participants was already a winner. They not only acquired the gift of public speaking, but their ideas on improving the country and the world could have a lasting impact. The District will be extending a formal invitation to the President to come hear the winning students’ speeches at an upcoming Chula Vista Rotary meeting.

It would not be the first time a President has visited the region. Chula Vista Rotary hosted President Eisenhower’s visit to Chula Vista in 1960.

President Obama clearly captured the imagination of this year’s speech contestants. The contest theme was “What advice would you give the new president of the United States?” Some students encouraged the President to become a better role model by giving up smoking. Others urged the President to take a stronger stance in preserving the nation’s natural resources. Speakers urged stricter laws on automobile emissions, for example, with one student noting that getting around on a skateboard suited him just fine and it was good for the environment. From ending the war in Iraq, to fighting diabetes, lowering taxes and increasing funding for education, the participants were poised in expressing how to make the world a better place.

Semi-finals were held last week for each of the upper grades, which consisted of students who had already won their individual school competitions. A panel of judges selected six students from each of the upper grades to proceed to the finals. Judges consisted of community and business leaders, and District resource teachers. For 26 years, Bank of America has nurtured Chula Vista students’ public speaking skills through sponsorship of the Speech Contest. The popular event attracts many talented young speakers.

First-place winners will present their speeches at a future Board of Education meeting. District staff will also provide opportunities for the First-, Second-, and Third-place winners to demonstrate their talents by presenting their speeches at various community group meetings. Each of the finalists will receive a savings bond, courtesy of Bank of America. A digital video copy of the presentations will be provided to each contestant.

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