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Los Alamos Public Schools fifth- and sixth-graders will be presented with an unusual opportunity: they will be encouraged to talk while class in session. Students can show off their gift of gab during the annual speech contest at 4:15 p.m. April 17 at Pion Elementary School.Rose Martin, speech contest coordinator, explained t hat before the district contest, students needs to test their skills at their schools. Each class will send representatives to the schools’ contests. The winners from these contests will advance on to the district competition.Competitors present either a humorous or serious piece, Martin said. They memorize a written speech, she explained. Typically for the humor category, students recite a story while for the serious category they might perform a famous speech, such as “I Have a Dream,” by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. “They memorize a piece of work,” she said.Judges will evaluate speakers for their vocal and body expressions.For body expressions, she said, judges will look at several things such as eye contact, gestures and poise.Additionally, for vocal expressions, students will be evaluated on voice quality, inflection, clarity, projection, diction and speed.Through this competition, “(students) gain confidence; they get skills effective for being in front of the audience, interpret material (and) presentation skills,” Martin said. “I think there is a creative approach to their speech.”Even though participating in school contests is mandatory, Martin added, “Beyond that, having to stand up and speak in front of an audience is a life-long skill.”The district contest is open to public and Martin encourages people to attend.