CHESTERTOWN - Each spring, Kent School middle school students participate in the Modern Woodmen of American School Speech Contest.
This year, fifth- through eighth-grade students were challenged to write about an individual who has overcome an obstacle. The students brought a mix of humor, emotion and enthusiasm to the podium with themes that ranged from a chicken with super-power survival skills to the inspiring story of Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. In the end, a life-changing car accident, Dyslexia and simply being a girl provided inspiration for the winning speech writers.
The third prize went to eighth-grade student Patrick Keating, who wrote about his uncle who suffered paralysis after a car accident. Keating spoke of his uncle's amazing recovery after a year in shock trauma, a long rehabilitation and recuperation.
Second prize went to Griffin Hecht, who spoke about his personal battle with Dyslexia. In his speech, Hecht, a sixth-grade student, named several notable individuals who fought Dyslexia and won, including George Washington, Stonewall Jackson, John Lennon and Thomas Edison. He went on to tell about leaving Kent School in first grade and his journey, with his mother and teachers, to find the right program where he could master the tools he needed to succeed. After three years of hard work, Hecht rejoined his Kent School classmates in the fourth grade.
Fifth-grade student Annaliesse Cantera won first prize with her speech about Malala Yousafzai and her tireless and heroic fight in support of education for girls in Pakistan. Cantera wrote of Yousafzai's accomplishments in the first person. "The Taliban kept on destroying our schools. I just can't stand it anymore. I must fight back. ..." Cantera had the audience members on the edge of their seats as she went on to describe the day that Yousafzai was shot in the face on her way home from school.
Awards for the first-, second- and third-place winners were presented on Awards Day.
For more information about Kent School or the speech contest, call 410-778-4100 or visit www.kentschool.org.