September is Basic Education and Literacy Month in the Rotary International calendar so this story from Dargaville Rotary is an excellent example of what Rotary clubs do achieve for their communities.
In contrast to many of our Govid-ravaged events, this year’s NW Schools Junior Speech Contest was a glowing success, attracting nine young orators from six schools and a total audience of about 80 to Dargaville’s Lighthouse Function Centre.
The event, which Dargaville Rotary Club co-organises with the NW Principals’ Association, sees the young contestants, who have already contested their own schools’ event, speaking for three minutes on subjects of their choice. Topics included animal abuse, bullying, fat, gaming, 10-year-olds driving, whale strandings, twins, and even the merits of Maccas.
Year 6 Ruawai Primary School pupil Ben Leao’s eloquent plea for McDonalds to erect golden arches in Dargaville persuaded judges Sarah Horner and Rachel Burnett to announce him the winner and gained him the contest’s kauri trophy for a year. Eighty nine percent of students at his school supported the idea and even less populous Kaikohe had a Maccas, Ben explained.
Second place went to an unusual argument for 10-year-olds to be driving cars. Year 6 Arapohue student Kiera Piper was adamant that 10-year-olds would be safer than many adults – after all, statistics showed that no drivers of that age died behind the wheel!
Storm Askew-Smith, year 7 from Te Kopuru, took aim at F.A.T in her third placed speech, where she pointed out that a little was good and a lot bad, and it depended what sort of fat you were talking about.
Other contestants – in order of speaking, included:
• Maori Andrew (yr 6 Te Kopuru) with a reasoned assessment of bullying. “life can be difficult, but we shouldn’t make others’ lives difficult too.”
• Thomas Cole (yr 7 Dargaville Intermediate) - Therapy Animals. Thomas said their use is increasing, involving a large range of animals to assist with many issues.
• Ezra Scott ( yr 7 Ruawai College) - Usain Bolt. The multiple Olympic winner and record breaker “will always be the greatest sprinter” for this young fan.
• Ryley Anderson (yr 7 Te Kopuru) - Benefits of Gaming. Ryley says gaming benefits reactions, concentration and decision making, but also admitted he was seeking justification to spend more time on his computer.
• Lilly Ewenson (yr 8 Dargaville Intermediate) - Twins. Humorously explained relationships with her twin, Hannah. Advantages included “a built-in best friend”, but there were also downsides like sharing birthdays – “birthdays are not for sharing”.
• Ainslee Lugtigheid (yr 6 Dargaville Primary) - Whale Strandings at Ripiro Beach. Ainslee considered possible reasons for the fatal stranding of a mother and calf and looked at what responders could do.
The judges complimented all speakers on their efforts and the quality of their presentations, concluding that they had all said something important to them.
The evening was concluded with a nice supper sponsored by Jo’s Home Cookery – for which Rotary is extremely grateful, especially in these difficult times.
The contest was again videoed by Ken Cashin who will make his work available to the schools.

Sourced from the District 9910 Rotarians Facebook page (Permission to share from DG Elaine).