By Jason KUROSU
The Lions Club’s 74th annual speech contest commenced this February. Lions Clubs throughout California are holding speech contests for local high school students and the Crescenta-Cañada Lions Club participated by holding a contest at the Montrose Citibank.
Four La Cañada High School students presented their speeches to a crowd of Lions Club members on the topic, “Enforcing Our Borders; State vs. Federal Rights.”
Each speaker was allotted five to 10 minutes to present their speech to the audience, and more importantly, the four judges. A cash prize of $75 was awarded to the winner, but the real incentive was moving onto larger contests for larger scholarship prizes. Fifteen district winners will receive $4,500 each. Four area winners will receive $11,000 each and one final winner will receive $21,000 in scholarship money. First though, the four students had to make it through the local competition.
The first speaker, sophomore Jessica Son, took a firm stance on the states’ rights to deal with illegal immigration in her speech. She sided with Arizona’s recent controversial SB 1070 bill and denied that the federal government has the time or resources to deal effectively with these matters.
The second speaker, junior Sierra Katow, described the United States’ predicament through a metaphor, transforming the country into an apartment building and U.S. citizens into tenants. Her speech followed that an apartment building’s criteria for prospective tenants is and should be stringent, as should the country’s criteria for its citizenry.
The third speaker, junior Kevork Kurdoghlian, analyzed the situation through the five W’s of journalism (with the sixth component of “how” being key for him). His speech charted his progress analyzing the illegal immigration debate in order to compose his speech, which led to him becoming stressed and then turning to video games, which actually helped him complete his speech.
The fourth speaker, junior Sam Whitefield, began his speech by highlighting the various contributions that immigrants have made to the United States. He spoke on how each new immigrant group struggled to integrate into the makeup of the country and faced numerous setbacks, along with racism and xenophobia. He concluded that Americans must work to accept new immigrants and help streamline the often difficult citizenship process and that immigrants should work hard to become citizens.
After the speeches, time was given for the four judges to convene and name the winner. None of the judges were Lions Club members, but rather unaffiliated La Cañada citizens and local businessmen. Crescenta-Cañada Lions Club President Art Rinaman kept the crowd busy by introducing the speakers and providing some Lions Club history.
The judges emerged and Rinaman announced the winner, Jessica Son. The contestants all shook hands and posed for many photo opportunities (above).
Jessica will participate in the Lions Club’s next contest, which takes place on March 5, for a $100 prize.