WAYLAND — Several students spread the message of kindness at the local historical society.
On May 5 the Wayland Area Historical Society held the Wallace Wagner Speech Contest with five students from Alexander Central talking about kindness, and three high school students talking about historical figures.
WAHS Member Lee Applin said the local schools used to participate in public speaking, but they don’t anymore. It is something that many feel should be brought back to the area. Several students from out of town compete in speech contests all over the country.
“For many years the local schools used to do public speaking. They had to practice speeches all year for a grade. It gave the ability to learn how to write a speech, and prove their points to an audience,” he said. “Bob Babcock has tried to bring that back to the local schools, but they have gotten away from that.”
Applin said he tutored students for a decade that had been suspended from their schools.
“All these students wanted was to learn. People like to be heard and be able to express themselves,” he said. “I like that Bob puts these kids all through a routine, so that they learn life lessons. They need to write a speech that makes sense, and they learn how to present that infront of people.”
This year Babcock gave a certificate of achievement to each speaker and a two dollar bill that signifies the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
“It is a real blessing to be with such wonderful children. They don’t grow up this way on their own,” he said. “So many are not raised well, but that is not the case today. We see the beauty of well raised children today. We have several speakers from Alexander, which is known for having some of the best student speakers in the state. You will witness them all speaking from the heart.”
The student speakers this year are; Oscar Staba, Emily Pietrzkowski, Kristen Thompson, Paige Bryant, Riley Wall, Abigail Christopher, Paige Tedesche, and Victoria Kelly.
Staba gave a speech about what it was like to be a small child with a skin condition.
“Even when I was in hard time I learned to remain optimistic. I was sitting there in pain unable to move, but I chose to look at the bright side of things. I remember my mom telling me that Franklin D. Roosevelt said ‘The only thing to fear is fear itself’ My glass of milk was half full and not half empty,” he said.
Pietrzkowski gave a speech about her little brother showing kindness to a lonely student.
“I wanted to work on being more kind to others, and give every living creature a smile. Humans can be wonderful, or they can be mean and hurtful. This can cause some bad results,” she said. “My little brother had a choice to make at lunch one day. He saw a little special needs girl sitting alone. His friends were waiting for him to come sit with them, but he chose to go sit with the lonely girl. Her smile was worth more than a million dollars. You might not know what is going on in someone’s life, and you can have a chance to brighten their day up.”
Thompson gave a speech about the effects of the Berlin Wall after World War II.
“After World War Two ended no one knew what to do with Germany, so they split it up into four occupy zones. Berlin became the capital, and it was broken into four parts too. In 1948 they put up a barricade, which didn’t go over so well. It kept a lot of food, gas, and other things away from a lot of people,” she said. “They made the Berlin Wall that started out at three feet, and it separated families and ruined many lives. It would soon grow to 12 feet high, and would be four feet wide. Soon they realized the wall was not working and finally tore it down in November 1989.”
Bryant gave a speech about always looking at the sunny side of life.
“I want to look at the sunnyside of everything. You need to find the amazing things in life. When you face stress with a bright smile on your face you can get anywhere. The bumpy roads all head somewhere,” she said. “Thomas Edison wasn’t born with the ability to know how to make electric light. He tried and failed over and over again. He tried and failed 1,000 times. Edison said ‘I didn’t fail 1,000 times. It took me 1,000 steps to get here.’ The hope of getting what we work so hard for is happiness at the end.”
Wall gave a speech about the incredible true story of Helen Keller.
“Helen became blind and death at a young age after getting Scarlet Fever. When an act of kindness from Ann Sullivan happened, she was given a chance to learn. She became the human we all admire today. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance, not just from Helen but from Ann as well who taught her,” she said. “Helen told us all to follow our dreams. She taught us to never give up, and when we fall down we just pick ourselves back up. She said she would rather be in the dark with a friend, then be in the light all alone.”
Christopher gave a speech on the Battle of the Alamo, and how it changed American history forever.
“I went on a mission trip to help Texas during Hurricane Harvey Relief. It was at that time I was able to see the Alamo. We saw were they defended and fought. In order to understand what happened at the Alamo you need to know the history of what really happened there,” she said. “There were a small group of protestors once the Mexican Government decided to settle there. William Travis was infuriated by what was happening there. On Feb. 24, 1836 they all laid siege to the Alamo. The Mexican Army gathered along with the Texans. It lasted until March 6, 1836. The Texans were outnumbered by better trained and better armed men. The wall of the Alamo had collapsed, and Travis had been shot in the head. He stood up in the courtyard when the walls collapsed, and rolled over to stab the Mexican general before he died.”
Christopher said this is where the ultimate sacrifice for our country was born, and the term had been used for the first time.
Tedesche gave a speech on the importance of communication.
“Communication is an exchange of thoughts and speech. The history of communication with mankind has improved from screaming at one another. We have come a long way from the start of sending codes through messages, or attaching a message to a pigeon,” she said. “We went from morse code, to the telephone, to the first computer, and now 79 percent of us are on social media. We have forgotten how to communicate with one another. We all feel more alone now than we ever did before. It has created a hike in depression. We need to get back to real human connections.”
Kelly gave a speech on the difference between Liberty and Union as told by Daniel Webster in 1830.
“The U.S. Senator Daniel Webster gave a famous speech about liberty in 1830. It was between him and a senator in South Carolina. The principles given were of liberty and union that were relevant at the time, and are still very relevant today,” she said. “Webster said we needed both liberty and union, and one could not exist without the other. It would mark the saying Give Me Liberty of Give Me Death. Today we are divided all over again. Union alone is not enough. Liberty belongs to all humans. Webster was right in 1830. The USA is still considered the most free country in the world. We still need to live free both in union and liberty.”