Durham Public Schools held its first district-wide Modern Woodmen of America school speech contest last week. Seven middle schools participated with Layke Jones, a seventh grader at Lucas Middle School taking first place. Iris Henry from Lakewood Montessori Middle placed second and Mulubrhan Kidanu from Durham School of the Arts placed third.
Students had to write a three to five minute speech using their own thoughts and words on the topic: “What does it mean to be a hero?” They were then scored on how they organized their speech – the theme and subject’s adherence to the requirements and the structure, content, logic, and color of the presentation. They also received points for their voice, pronunciation, enunciation, gestures and poise.
Lakewood Montessori Middle had been the sole school participating in the speech contest until DPS Director of Advanced Academics, Beth Cross and Middle School English Language Arts Content Specialist Sharon Griffith decided to encourage more schools to get involved.
“We liked the valuable personal and academic experience the contest provides students and wanted to expand participation,” said Cross. “Now that we have multiple DPS schools participating we want to expand it even more and develop a regional competition.”
The Modern Woodmen of America School Speech Contest has been available to students for more than 60 years. Today the contest is an important event in many schools across the nation with nearly 100,000 students competing last year.