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Sophomores get ready for second annual Martin Luther King Jr. speech contest

by Maya Metser

As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day gets closer, the sophomores of this school prepare for the second annual MLK Jr. sophomore speech contest.

For many, the contest is a way to commemorate King’s persuasive speeches by teaching students the important skill of public speaking.

“Public speaking is one of the most difficult things you can do,” said Melissa Dilworth, the English Department head. “As an English department, we try to teach the students this lifelong skill of public speaking.”

Each sophomore writes a two to four minute speech in his or her English class about something that inspires change. The winning speaker from each English class will compete at a semi-final competition during X-block in early January. Winners from this round will take part in the grade-wide competition on January 17. The winner of this final round will return the following year as a judge.

Throughout the process, students learn different ways to create a speech and how it is different from writing an essay. Sophomore teachers give their students tools to deliver an effective and persuasive speech by implementing public speaking lessons into the curriculum. Some lessons include learning when to use appropriate dramatic pauses, emphasize certain words, and more helpful techniques.

“In the end, the students really surprise themselves. Most students say, ‘Oh, I can’t do this, it’s too hard,’ in the beginning,” said Dilworth. “But they really do realize that they can do it and it isn’t as hard as it seems.”

Last year’s winner, junior Tommy Mobley, said the speech unit was his favorite last year, though it was challenging.

“The speech unit was one of my favorite units because it relied on yourself having to go out and do something as well as thinking yourself. You could think about something that you see in life and wisdom that you have and then you can share it with everyone.”

Mobley’s English class studied about King in this unit as well as watched television commercials to give students an idea of how to convey their point in a short period of time.

“Pick something you are passionate about,” advises Mobley.

This year, Mobley gets the opportunity to judge the contest.

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