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Rotary holds speech contest for students
Xavier McCartney, Greg Cannata, Michelle Roberts, Miriam Madison, James Varnum, Madison Preston and Charlotte Norsworthy competed Tuesday in the Hinesville Rotary Club's high-school speech contest. - photo by Photo by Jeremy McAbee

The Hinesville Rotary Club on Tuesday hosted its annual speech contest for area high-school students.

Seven students – representing Liberty County High School, Bradwell Institute and First Presbyterian Christian Academy – delivered speeches, while seven Rotary members judged their performances.

Judging criteria included organization of the students’ material and delivery style of their speeches, including eye contact, hand gestures and posture. Appropriate attire also was given consideration.

The students’ speeches were to reflect either the Rotary International President’s theme, “Light Up Rotary,” or the club’s four-way test. Students also were instructed to keep their speeches between three and four minutes, with points being deducted for falling short of or exceeding the time limits.

The competitors drew numbers to determine order. They were: Miriam Madison, BI senior; James Varnum, LCHS senior; Michelle Roberts, FPCA senior; Greg Cannata, FPCA sophomore; Madison Preston, LCHS senior; Charlotte Norsworthy, LCHS senior; and Xavier McCartney, FPCA sophomore.

Following the speeches, Hinesville Rotary Sergeant-at-arms Michelle Ricketson tallied the judges’ scorecards while club President Brigitte Shanken presented each competitor with a certificate and a Rotary coin.

Once the scores were totaled, Shanken announced the winners: Cannata took third place, winning $25; Roberts came in second, netting $50; and Norsworthy won the competition, along with $100 and a chance to represent the Hinesville Rotary at its zone competition.

Norsworthy’s speech reflected the club’s “Light Up Rotary” theme. She began by describing watching her baby brother, born premature, in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Norsworthy said that, although she was only five years old at the time, she remembers “every tiny, little detail. But what I remember most,” she continued, “was how my small, immature mind found light in the darkness through a small, blue and white blanket.”

She said that her and her family’s experiences inspired her to create her own national charity.

“It’s a simple concept, really: I hand-make baby flannel blankets and donate them to NIC units across the nation,” she said. “When I see a baby wrapped in a blanket that I made, my heart swells, and my light brightens.

“I’m shining through serving others in my community – the community of humanity,” Norsworthy said. “So, I ask you: What are you doing to ‘light up Rotary?’”

According to its website, the Rotary District 6920 is divided into three zones – Northern, Coastal and Western. The speech winner of each zone will have a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship.

Zone competitions will be held through March and early April. Winners also will present their speeches at the annual District Conference.

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