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The 8th Annual Sarnoff Speech Contest

Left+to+Right%3A+%0AThird+Place%3A+Miles+Layhue%3B+Maple+Street+School+in+Manchester%0ASecond+Place%3A+Charlotte+Benjamin%3B+Pine+Cobble+School+in+Williamstown%0AFirst+Place%3A+Braiden+Pearson%3B+Mountain+School+at+Winhall
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The 8th Annual Sarnoff Speech Contest

Left to Right: 
Third Place: Miles Layhue; Maple Street School in Manchester
Second Place: Charlotte Benjamin; Pine Cobble School in Williamstown
First Place: Braiden Pearson; Mountain School at Winhall

Left to Right: Third Place: Miles Layhue; Maple Street School in Manchester Second Place: Charlotte Benjamin; Pine Cobble School in Williamstown First Place: Braiden Pearson; Mountain School at Winhall

Left to Right: Third Place: Miles Layhue; Maple Street School in Manchester Second Place: Charlotte Benjamin; Pine Cobble School in Williamstown First Place: Braiden Pearson; Mountain School at Winhall

Left to Right: Third Place: Miles Layhue; Maple Street School in Manchester Second Place: Charlotte Benjamin; Pine Cobble School in Williamstown First Place: Braiden Pearson; Mountain School at Winhall

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Sunday, December 2nd marked the conclusion of the end of the year’s Sarnoff Speech Contest. For those of you who are unaware, the Sarnoff Speech Contest is an event that the CM199: Public Speaking in Civic Life  class, taught by Tracey Forest, organizes and hosts throughout the semester. The event pulls top-of-the-class middle schoolers throughout Bennington and the surrounding areas to write and give a speech following the prompt of “This I Believe”. Every year, the class is tasked with planning this very important event; the plans range from the development of a website, to organizing a time and place, etc. Having held a place in the class and planning process this semester, I found myself relatively pleased with the showing performance of my peers, in regards to their involvement in the planning. I got to be the Emcee, and despite the laudable efforts of my professor and peers, I still managed to get away with being a complete and utter menace to society. The good news is that people didn’t hate me enough to throw me out the front door, so I couldn’t have been that bad.

Regardless, the event was a fun and eye-opening experience. With nineteen participants who each put forth very respectable showings, I found myself genuinely surprised at the quality of their work, and no-less pleased by their performances. By the first couple of speakers, I was actually excited to hear about these children’s beliefs and I was no longer simply doing it as a token effort of pretending to be a responsible adult. Having thought back to my own middle school days and lackluster performances of my then peers, I admit I was a bit biased going into that contest. I found myself eating my works and feeling mildly humbled by their talent and dedication; frankly, I came out feeling rather pleased, at having been so utterly proven incorrect.

The topics of these children’s speeches were also well-varied, with many interesting or even downright incredible tales to tell, following the flow of their talks. Many of my peers organizing the event found themselves impressed by the story-telling skills and respectable wordplay of one of the students. We all agreed that some of the topics talked about were genuinely emotional, and even sometimes tear-jerking, to say the least. Those of you who missed it, really did miss it. If not for the impressive performance of the children, then because you missed my mind-blowingly awesome comedic performance as the Emcee. I even got my very own medal!

For the children who performed, well done; you all clearly put your whole hearts into the things you had to say and I respect that. I regret that there could only be three ‘winners’, but you all most definitely performed winningly. The rest of you may be pleased to know that everyone who performed did receive a medal, letting them know that they weren’t totally lame. There did have to be a top three though.

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