Building up speaking skills

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By Kirsten Laskey

During the Los Alamos County Speech Contest, students needed to be quick with their words and smooth with their talk. The most skilled speakers proved to be Piñon Elementary School fifth-graders Derek Selvage and John Valdiviez.

Selvege earned first place in the serious speech competition and Valdiviez earned first place in the humorous competition.

The title of Selvege’s speech was, “Are you going to help me?” by Mark Hansen. Valdiviez presented a speech titled, “Librarian from the Black Lagoon,” by Mike Thaler.

The annual contest has been held for more than 25 years, said District Speech Contest Coordinator Rose Martin.

Each elementary school holds a competition and then sends two representatives to the district competition. This year, students from Piñon, Chamisa, Aspen and Barranca Mesa elementary schools participated in the competition.

During the contest, judges evaluated body expression, vocal expression, knowledge of the material, choice of material and overall interpretation of the speech, Martin said.

In the serious category, students needed to present a serious mood or tone of a speech, which can be from a published work, a famous speech or an excerpt from a book.

“(It’s) an interpretation of works that are of a serious nature,” Martin said.

The humorous speeches had to interpret a speech or text and bring out the humor.

This year, Martin added, there were four competitors for the serious category and three contestants for the humorous portion.

Other top finishers were Matthew Ticknor of Aspen Elementary School, who earned second place in the serious speech category, and Joanna O’Neill of Aspen Elementary School, who received second place in the humorous speech category.

Ticknor’s speech was from President Lincoln’s second inaugural address and O’Neill’s speech was an excerpt from “Clementine” by Sarah Penney Packer.

The purpose of the speech contest, Martin said, is “to give practice and encouragement for good speech habits to speak before groups and to develop the art of interpretation.”