WAYLAND — The Wallace Wagner Speech Invitational had 20 students from all over compete for prize money.
The Wayland Historical Society hosted the event on May 6 with two groups of speakers: grades one through sixth, and grades seventh through twelfth. There were three prize winners in each group, with each student getting a certificate and some money.
The first group winners are Lilly Radder, third place; Oscar Staba, second place; and Bella Reeves, first place. The other speakers got honorable mention and $30.
The second group winners are Josh Thomson, third place; Emily Charles, second place; and Rachael Collier, first place. The other speakers got honorable mention and $40.
There was a total of $960 given to the 20 speakers for their hard work and dedication.
Young Speakers Academy Founder Bob Babcock said he is impressed with the amount of research and passion the students put into the speeches every year.
“President Harry Truman once said ‘there is nothing new in the world, but the history we don’t know about’ and the history these young people are going to talk about is extraordinary,” he said. “It is a real blessing to have them all here. We love having students speak, and we have the best speaking at this presentation.”
Wayland Historical Society President John Landino said they are pleased to have the students at the museum every year, and it is a great place to showcase youth.
“Wallace Wagner helped to establish this as the best historical museum in a small town,” he said. “We are paying tribute to the past, and educating the future. It is really amazing what these students can accomplish.”
Reeves did her speech on President George Washington, and the legacy he left behind.
“George Washington was an American Statesman and General who was one of the founding fathers of the United States,” she said. “He was always truthful and honest, so they could count on him to lead the army. He was a valued leader throughout history. When they called him to be the first president they knew he could do it. They saw what he could do as a leader.”
Reeves said that George Washington showed what could be done, and was a highly respected leader of America.
Radder talked about the important legacy Harriet Tubman displayed during the Underground Railroad.
“Harriet Tubman said ‘I was free, but there was no one to welcome me in this freedom, and I was a stranger in a strange land,’ which meant she was freed from slavery, but no one was here to welcome her. She didn’t know much about America,” she said. “She made great contributions to freeing other slaves, and getting her family away from the south. She stood for freedom, and was a conductor of the Underground Railroad.”
Staba talked about the first woman’s university being in Attica, and a historic plaque that tells of its story.
“It began as the Female Seminary in Attica in 1835 as the first female college. It was founded by Emily Ingham in Attica before moving it to LeRoy,” he said. “It made a huge impact on the lives of women. Once it was knocked down they used the bricks to building the library at the same location.”
Thomson talked about the history of communication through the telephone system.
“Operator please connect me to MA6473 was the standard way of connecting a phone call. This system was a problem for the phone company and the user. The user would have to give the number to the operator to be connected,” he said. “All of this changed with the Auto Phone Exchange in 1876. This was an important advancement that connected the server to the recipient without an operator. The number of clicks would tell the digits of the number you wanted to dial. It could take up to an hour to make a long distance phone call. The rotary dial came in 1919. Now we have push button phones and cell phones.”
Collier talked about the first time she was made to feel ashamed of her faith.
“My parents always told me there would be consequences for my actions. As a child this translates to ‘if I disobey I will get into trouble,’ but it would take awhile for me to understand the true meaning. I grew up Christian, and we would start every meal with a prayer. It was always second nature to me.
“I was at my first job, and I bowed my head to pray over my meal. I was told by my boss that I couldn’t pray, because religion could be offensive to others. I am not allowed to display that I am a Christian,” Collier continued. “My boss called it a safe place for others, but it was not a safe place for me if I was reprimanded for believing in God. We all have moments that make who we are. This had a huge impact on my life, and made me ashamed to be a Christian. If you are going to make an impact make sure it is a positive one.”
Charles talked about being born in China and adopted by a Rochester couple who couldn’t have children.
“It is only by the grace of God that I stand here today. If not for the love of my biological mother I would not have been blessed to be in a orphanage at 11 days old. They have a one child policy in China. A mother will be forced to abort her child if it is a girl in hopes for a boy. There are 15 million abortions a year in China, and 35,000 babies murdered a day,” she said. “There are more female suicides in China than anywhere else in the world. In 2001 I was brought home to America, and I will have a family for the rest of my life.”
Charles talked about her adopted family history, and the chance they gave her to grow up in a loving home.
The Wallace Wagner Speech Invitational speakers were Madeline Grant, Luna Wright, Olivia Pulver, Ian Kennedy, Bella Reeves, Kylee McClellan, David Wheeler, Evangeline Grant, Lilly Radder, Oscar Staba, Stan Dobra, Josh Thomson, Ian Edmonds, Shawn Colmes, Erin Hess, Rachael Collier, Emily Charles, Kenyon Carlson and Peter Kelly.