Students triumph in oratory contests

Three Diamond Bar High School students were among the winners in two oratory contests held on Jan. 29, with two first place speakers moving onto the next stage of the competition.

Junior Bella Lam won the $100 grand prize in the Walnut Valley Administrator Association’s High School Oratory Contest, in which she responded to the prompt, “Why is it important for leaders to make a difference in today’s modern society?” and “How can leaders make a difference in small acts rather than grand gestures?”

“I wrote that the larger actions are ultimately an accumulation of smaller actions, so when you take a small action, you have to act like it matters,” Lam said.

Lam found out about this competition after Denise Mesdjian offered extra credit to her AP Language and Composition students who participated in the contest. Though she initially signed up for the extra credit, Lam also thought that the prompt was relatable and interesting and decided to put in effort.

“I kind of waited until the last day because I wasn’t really inspired by anything, but once the idea came to me, it was pretty quick and I kept practicing it,” Lam said.

The judges announced Lam as the winner, and she will represent Walnut Valley Unified School District at the Association of California School Administrators Region XV competition against 25 other districts on Mar. 6 in Pasadena. Lam will deliver the same speech and compete for a place in the top six to win $700.

Meanwhile, in the Diamond Bar-Walnut branch of the American Association of University Women Speech Trek Contest, junior Angela Medina was awarded first place and sophomore Ryan Chan won third place.

Chan discovered the opportunity in a flyer he received at the awards ceremony of a separate essay contest. According to Chan, participants had to submit an outline responding to the prompt, “How Can We Eliminate Violence At Our Schools?” before they were chosen to give their speech at the Diamond Bar Library.

Chan suggested that the first step toward eliminating violence at schools should be to make communities a safer place as students are heavily influenced by their environment. In addition, he mentioned how having certain clubs and organizations at schools, such as Save Promise club, can help students divert their attention away from violence. Medina, on the other hand, said that kindness was the answer to eliminate school violence.

“I gave the example of my grandfather living in Taiwan,” Chan said. “He’s a high school doctor, [and] he visits a school three times a week and talks to students [for] two hours each session. So that could…help students share their problems as an alternative to violence.”

Medina was surprised in her fifth period class and Chan in his sixth period class by members of AAUW, who told them about their results of the contest. Because Medina won first place, she can move on to the state level speech competition and submit a video of her delivering the speech. According to Chan, the top three state finalists will attend and deliver their speeches at the San Diego AAUW California Convention in April.

“Once I started talking, everything felt natural and normal. I treated it as if I was speaking to my family or friends. It felt unreal that I won because I was not prepared for the speech at all,” Medina said via Facebook. “I didn’t even write the entire speech before presenting it. I wrote bullet points and important facts and went with the flow.”