Tippecanoe High School students participated March 2 in the annual Rotary Four Way Test Speech contest with speeches focusing on topics from derogatory names to being a parent and fitting in at a new environment.

Student Laken Brown was the first-place winner $400. She will represent the local Rotary Club at the district competition on April 2.

Students placing in the top four at the district competition also receive cash wards. If the local entrant places at district, the Tipp City Rotary would match their prize money, said Rotarian Doug Thompson, who is in charge of the Four Way speech contest.

The winning speakers also were scheduled to present their speeches to the Rotary Club at its meeting this week.

In addition to Brown, winners were: second place, Wanderley Ebanks, who was awarded $300; third place, Leena Vyas, who received $200; and fourth place, Zach Dix, who received $100.

The students’ speeches were built around the Rotary Four Test with the following questions:

- -       Is it the truth?

- -       Is it fair to all concerned?

- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

In her speech, Brown talked about derogatory comments, using a fellow student as someone unfairly targeted by comments due to her challenges.

“Every single person in this room has the power to remove the unfairness that results from the use of baseless derogatory language just as you have the power to benefit in many ways, as well as establish goodwill in your life and create lasting friendships in the process,” she said.

“I have chosen to stand up against degrading others, and I now ask that each one of you join me. Life is too short to judge others, and lose friendships. So give everyone a chance, believe in the goodness of others, and the good in yourself.”

Thompson thanked the students for participating.

While judges working on their scoring, Thompson talked about Rotary, service organization founded in 1904. Today, there are more than 34,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide with over 1.2 million members, he said.

The Tipp City Rotary participates in local service projects such as cleaning along roads, sponsoring the Interact Club at the high school and providing scholarships.

 

Rotary Four Way Test Speech Contest First Place Winner

 Laken Brown

December 16, 2016, 6:00 p.m. As I entered a local high school to watch a junior varsity boys basketball game, I walked past the student section of the opposing team and I heard the words, “Oh my gosh look at that retarded cheerleader” followed by a student directing her friend’s attention to one of our cheerleaders. But you see she is not just ANY cheerleader, this young lady is the most committed, eccentric, amazing young woman and a very dear friend of mine, and she is unfortunately judged in her daily life simply because of the way she was born. I am here tonight to provide a call to action regarding the use of degrading and derogatory speech in our society by using the Rotary Four Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? And last but not least, is it beneficial to all concerned? To begin, the first question we ask: Is it the truth? Now, call me crazy but I believe we as people in our society are given names at our birth for a reason. Therefore, the labels, names and objectifications we choose to place on others are entirely made up. This student is unique, she is her own person with her own gifts to give to this world, but she is in NO WAY any of the demeaning and disrespectful labels which that young lady placed on her. Therefore you can clearly see that degrading and demeaning language is not true. The lack of truth in the matter then leads us to ask the second question: Is the use of this appalling language fair to all concerned? I will consider all three parties involved in the use of derogatory speech. First the student who was using the derogatory language. She was putting herself in a position to possess the power to entirely judge and disrespect another person who was unable to defend herself in the situation. Secondly, in regard to the cheerleader, she was the victim of the appalling judgements. The cheerleader luckily did not hear the remarks made by the other student, and if she had, she does not know the negative connotation behind those words. Finally, the people around them were also affected. Although some may not have heard the student’s hateful words, those who did could have been outraged, upset, or even disturbed by the fact that their friend expected them to be amused by the situation, even though they were not directly involved. With the consideration of all three parties, it is clear that derogatory speech is not fair to all concerned in any light. I am not here to bash on the use of derogatory speech without proposing a solution to this extensive issue. I ask each and every person in this room to join me in standing up against derogatory speech by banding together to refrain from any use of negatively connotated language towards others, and looking past what may seem to you as their limitations, to look for their unique gifts and abilities. Allowing people to express themselves without immediate judgement will allow both them and you alike to prosper in many ways. If we choose to approach the way we speak in a positive, non-degrading fashion, we allow ourselves to prove the third question in our rotary four way test: Will this call to action build goodwill and better friendships? By standing against the use of objectifying language, you are able to avoid pigeonholing others, and you will see them for who they truly are, as will they. If I had chosen to degrade and judge this fellow cheerleader, I would have missed out on one of the best friendships I have ever made. She inspires me every single day to be a better person and enjoy the little things in life, thus bringing out more goodwill in my actions. Standing up against derogatory speech will allow you to gain friendships that may change your perspective of the world around you, allowing you to appreciate people for who they truly are and not some object they are made out to be. Now I have brought you to this final question of the Rotary Four Way test: Will this be beneficial to all concerned? When you choose to avoid derogatory speech, you are allowing yourself to look deeper into people and who they really are. In regards to the victims of derogatory speech, they will be given a chance, a chance for people to understand them for who they really are and not something that they are made out to be by someone else, and their self-confidence will rise dramatically. If you choose to join me to stand up against derogatory speech, you and all involved will benefit in an array of different ways every time you choose to get to know someone before speaking wrongly of them, and you will even gain some friendships along the way. Every single person in this room has the power to remove the unfairness that results from the use of baseless derogatory language , just as you have the power to benefit in many ways, as well as establish goodwill in your life and create lasting friendships in the process. I have chosen to stand up against degrading others, and I now ask that each one of you join me. Life is too short to judge others, and lose

friendships. So give everyone a chance, believe in the goodness of others, and the good in yourself.