ECB Publishing, Inc.
As the judges tabulated the results of the evening's contest, only one thing was absolutely certain and shared by all who had gathered in the Aucilla Christian Academy auditorium – every single speech of the night had been worthy of an award.
Each year, the Jefferson County UF/IFAS Extension Office's 4-H agents hosts the Tropicana Public Speaking Program. This program is offered to the students of Jefferson County, regardless of whether they attend Aucilla Christian Academy, are homeschooled or attend Jefferson Somerset.
Each school holds an individual speech contest and the county's program is concluded with a county-wide contest between the individual winners of each school.
This county-wide contest brings together the best young public speakers of Jefferson County – and regardless of awards, trophies or plaques, the night is one in which the voices of the young leaders of the county are listened to, recognized and praised.
The county-wide contest was filled with young people speaking before a room filled with adults, and their topics ranged from personal experiences with examples pulled from their school or family lives, to themes of agriculture, sports and hobbies.
Beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, the county-wide contest opened with a welcome by ACA Principal Richard Finlayson and a reminder of the evening's rules by 4-H Director John Lilly. The evenings Master of Ceremonies was Quinn Brookins.
The contest was divided up into two divisions, with the fourth and fifth graders competing against each other and then all sixth grade students competing.
Nine fourth or fifth graders and five sixth graders participated in the evening – each with an interesting, engaging or thought-provoking speech being provided for the evening's contest.
After each student had a turn to speak, the event's judges, John Nelson, Sr. and Paula Carroll, retired to a side room to tabulate the results of the county-wide speech contest.
While every young speaker had provided an outstanding speech that was unique, or told a story that was engaging and entertaining, only four young people would be moving on from the county's contest to compete at the district event.
As the judges emerged from their deliberation, the contestants held their breath in excited suspense. Each child was called back to the stage and presented with a token of their participation in this year's county-wide speech contest. Then, each grade's first, second, third and honorable mention winners were recognized.
In the fourth and fifth grade division, LayLonnie Johnson won first place with her speech on several influential leaders who have impacted her life at school, and Maggie Walker won second place for her speech on the beef cattle industry and what the daily life of a cattleman looks like.
In the sixth grade division, Finley Boyd won first place with her speech on her family's pets, with a special focus on Boyd's brindled dog, Tigger. Winning second place in the sixth grade division was Skyler Pearson, who spoke on her horse, Starbuck Cappuccino Frappuccino – aka, Cappy; Pearson spoke on the personality of her beloved horse and her efforts in training him.
After announcing the winners of the county-wide contest, 4-H Director John Lilly provided an encouraging word to all the participants in this year's contest, especially noting his pride in each and every one of them.
“It makes me feel good that this, that you, are our future,” said Lilly.
While they did not place in the first or second place category, the students who participated in this year's contest were definitely worthy of praise and recognition: Kamrynn Johnson with her speech “My Summer Road Trip”; Kymani Graham with her speech “Maya Angelou”; Tessia Brookins with her speech “Crazy Christmas Lights”; Allie Dollar with her speech “Wax Wings”; Azaria Morris with her speech “That Angel of Mine”; Mae McNeill with her speech “On Broadway”; Sylvia Peters with her speech “Me”; Benjamin Faglie with his speech “Chicken Farming”; GiGi Mediate with her speech “Cross Country”; and Tre Scott with his speech “The Pup With No Name.”
All four first and second place winners from the Jefferson County contest will go on to compete at the district level in 2020.
The 4-H District II Tropicana Public Speaking Contest will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2020 at the Liberty County Veterans Memorial Civic Center, in Bristol, Fla. The four Jefferson County youth will be competing against other students from Leon, Gadsden, Liberty, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla Counties.