“Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
That’s the four-way test Rotary International uses as a guiding principle, and it also was at the center of the Hinesville Rotary Club’s annual speech competition Tuesday.
Although the competition is open to all high school students who reside in the county, only three students — all from First Presbyterian Christian Academy — participated. FPCA senior Emily Hickey and freshmen Elise Letnaunchyn and Michelle Roberts are members of the school’s Interact club, Rotary’s service club for youth.
The contest aims to develop a broad study and application of the test as a moral and ethical model for behavior. Speeches are to be between three and four minutes long, and they must be delivered in extemporaneous style and with little visual prompting.
Letnaunchyn spoke first and offered some historical background on the test and its creation. She summarized the test and its applications, and added, “It will forever change my life and every decision-making opportunity that I have.”
Next, Hickey spoke about how the question of truth should be applied to life for the sake of maintaining credibility and integrity.
“It’s kind of terrifying, being in front of people,” Hickey said before the contest. She prepared for two weeks before giving her speech, but said it’s important to practice such skills, especially for students who plan to go into communication-oriented fields in the future.
Roberts spoke last, and she said that test creator Herbert J. Taylor crafted the guideline to steer his failing business back to success.
“Every day, we are approached with tons and hundreds of choices, and most of the time we don’t even realize it,” she said. “In my opinion, I believe that Herbert Taylor has tackled every single way of (making) choices, whether it’s our actions, or it’s our thoughts, or it’s our words.”
Roberts placed first, Hickey was second and Letnaunchyn third. They were awarded $100, $50 and $25, respectively.
Roberts advanced to the next round, where the winner gets $1,000.
“You can always have speaking opportunities, and rehearsing speeches and practicing them always helps,” Roberts said, adding that the practice makes it easier for one to express his or her feelings on a topic.