WHS’ Makaela Letayf wins Rotary Club’s speech contest
A Whitehall High School 11th-grade student won Whitehall Area Rotary Club’s second annual Four-Way Test speech contest at Fellowship Community’s Zentz Community Center, Whitehall, April 3.
Makaela Letayf won the top prize of $250 with her speech about social media use.
Letayf contended social media has had a negative effect on self-esteem among teens and said “social media is controlling our lives.”
Forty-three students entered the contest under the leadership of WHS English teacher Michelle Abbadessa.
Abbadessa teaches two dual enrollment speech classes and says all her students competed in a high school event that culminated in a “speak-off,” which determined the top five who would deliver their speeches in front of Rotary Club members and three judges.
Each speech was five to seven minutes long and was graded on content, organization and delivery by judges Robert Erland, president of Fellowship Community; Benjamin Long, with Whitehall Area Rotary Club; and Michael Harakal Jr., Whitehall Township mayor.
Students were required to discuss a topic using the Rotary’s Four-Way Test, which asks four questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? And will it be beneficial to all concerned?
All the students’ speeches were thoughtfully delivered and well received by the audience.
Lauren Knopf, 12th grade, spoke about the high cost of college education and the strain on the middle class.
Omar Hadeed, 12th grade, talked about the danger of relying on fossil fuels and the need for renewable energy.
Khoula Jaber, 12th grade, discussed using gene editing to save people from genetic diseases.
Autumn Dragovits, 12th grade, spoke about allowing people to use physican-assisted death when faced with a terminal illness.