Jefferson students talk about their heroes, lives and interests in Tropicana Public Speaking Contest

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

It’s that time of the year again!
All perched at the edge of their seats, 19 fourth through sixth graders at Jefferson Somerset were gathered in the media center at the school in order to present their public speech in front of their peers, school staff, a panel of judges and agents from the Jefferson County Extension Office.
The speech was divided up into two portions, with the fourth and fifth graders presenting their speeches first, and the sixth graders following.
The first to speak was fourth-grader Shatoria Bouie with her topic being on her role model “Oprah Winfrey”.
Following was the fifth-grader Emilio Olivares with an inspiring piece called “My Life”.
The third speaker was the fourth-grader LayLonnie Johnson who recited a beautiful poem titled “Superman” as an ode to her father.
Fifth-grader Kiara Williams spoke about her best friends, giving the history and background of how she met her best gal pals.
Standing proudly at the podium was fourth-grader Azaria Morris who spoke on her topic “Kids Dying” as she tackled the subject of bullying.
Peggy Scheuermann, a fifth-grader, provided a look into her favorite book and movie series in her speech titled “How Much I Love Harry Potter”.
Fourth-grader Greg Hagan shared ways that individuals can help others, especially those who are going through difficult circumstances in his speech “Helping Others”.
Fifth-grader Desire Nealy spoke openly about breast cancer as she described the illness and ways women (and men!) can take precautions in her speech titled “Breast Cancer Sucks”.
Speaking highly of a First Lady who made history was Kymani Graham, a fourth-grader, in her speech about the life and legacy of Michelle Obama.
Another hero was presented to the crowd as fifth-grader Patrick Parrish gave a speech on Muhammed Ali’s life and profession as a boxer.
Fourth-grader Jasmin Walton shared a speech titled “Rosa Parks” as she told the story of the woman who challenged racial division simply by refusing to be moved or frightened.
Kaitlyn Johnson, a fifth grader, spoke about one of her favorite YouTubers and makeup artists, James Charles, in a speech where she spoke about Charles’ life and how he came to be an online and cosmetic star.
As the last speaker for the fourth and fifth grades division, Kaleb Macon (fifth grade) spoke about one of his favorite athletes in a speech titled “Florida State Runningback”.
Judges John Hicks and Jacqueline Seabrooks were allowed a brief moment to compare notes and try to select three out of the 13 amazing speeches heard to be the first, second and third place winners.
Once completed, the contest moved on into the sixth-grade division.
Six students took their turns coming to the podium and sharing their speech.
The first to speak was Baylee Kuhl, who provided an entertaining and humorous anecdote into her life titled “Being Short”.
Next was Destiny Seaton, with a piece titled “The Magic Word.” The magic word wasn’t any long Latin phrase or complicated rhyme, but a simple “Please” when you need help from others.
Providing a heartfelt piece was Jessica Chilel with her speech “Are You Rich Or Poor?” where she discussed the many riches that people have that they might take for granted, such as food, a home, friends, and family.
Elijah Anderson entertained his audience with a humorous piece about his family titled “My Eight Siblings,” Anderson shared funny anecdotes about life with his many siblings.
Antonio Mathis drew from real life as he shared a piece titled “Autism: the real truth” where he spoke about his childhood.
The last sixth-grade speaker was Desmond Whitfield who warned against the dangers of watching too much TV and not engaging in other activities.
Once every speaker had been given a chance to complete their piece and return to their seat, the judges finalized their selections.
Extension Office and 4-H Director John Lilly went to the podium to first call up all the youth who had won honorable mention through their participation.
Then, the winners were selected.
Winning first place in the fourth and fifth-grade division was Kiara Williams, who was given a blue ribbon.
The second place winner was LayLonnie Johnson, and the third place white ribbon went to Azaria Morris.
In the sixth grade division, Elijah Anderson won the first place blue ribbon.
In second place was Destiny Seaton, and third place went to Desmond Whitfield.
On December 4, Elijah Anderson and Kiara Williams will go on to compete in the county-wide Tropicana competition against Aucilla Christian Academy and from there, Jefferson County’s finest young speaker will go on to compete in the district-wide competition in 2019.