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A Smackdown of artfully-crafted speeches illustrate beliefs and empowerment

The top three winners in the RHMS Spring Speech Smackdown  (left to right):  Megan Williams, Olivia Gibson and Jazlyn Eskanos.

Contributed by RHMS student Kira Zizzo; photo courtesy of Judi Holst

On May 1, the Spring Speech Smackdown, with the theme of “This I Believe,” took place at Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS).  Students spoke passionately as they poured their hearts out and expressed their beliefs through speeches.  While there may have been underlying fears, these students were not afraid to raise their voices and speak up for what they believe.

The contest entrants submitted a two-to-four-minute video with each student reciting a speech around the chosen theme.  The videos were assessed on eye contact, poise, passion, content, originality, rate, volume and actions/gestures.  Ten students were chosen as finalists by the judges.  The Castle Pines finalists who competed in the Smackdown were Megan Williams, Bryce Pettygrove, McKenna Riley, Nikki Flocco and Olivia Gibson.  The other competitors were Jazlyn Eskanos, Sammy Cutone, Makenna Dale, Dawson Boothe and Nathan Grammer.  The audience was captivated by all of the speakers.

There were three contest winners, including Eskanos winning first place, Gibson coming in second, and Williams earning third place.

Gibson’s speech focused on whether schools should value mental health over education.  “I feel that the Smackdown influenced the audience by giving them a new perspective on life,” said Gibson.  “Their eyes were opened to the beliefs of middle school students.  It is really amazing because middle schoolers are not often heard by adults.  This contest allowed us to speak our minds, which is a really amazing thing.”

Speech and literacy specialist Judi Holst and sixth-grade language arts teacher Lynn Legg made the contest possible.  This event was moving for Holst who said,  “A couple of students brought tears to my eyes with their stories.  I kept thinking how brave they were to share those stories with strangers in the audience.”  Holst thinks that it is important for kids to participate in the Spring Speech Smackdown.  She stated, “So many students don’t get a chance to shine at school unless they play sports or an instrument.  Many times, it is my students that struggle in school that tend to do well in speech class.  I wanted to give all students a chance to share their voice and thoughts through a speech competition.”

The Smackdown illustrated how when people speak their mind about their beliefs, it not only helps them to express themselves, but it can give others a new perspective.  The students did an outstanding job with their speeches and defined the meaning of their beliefs in their own unique ways.



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