Lions Club helps youth develop speaking ability
The room at Cherry Tree Catering was quiet but for the sounds of students competing for the right to move on in the California Lions 73rd Annual Students Speakers contest.
The four, one male and three females, stood before a small audience and expounded on the good, the bad and the possible politically unattractive regarding universal healthcare.
When all the points of view — for and against — were established and the final sentence was uttered, Victoria Loeffler emerged as the reigning champion for the Porterville Breakfast Lions.
“It feels good,” Loeffler said, with a quiet smile. “I didn’t expect to win. I participated because my coach, Mr. [Andrew] Plyman encouraged me to. He wanted to have us represent, and I enjoy public speaking.”
“Universal Healthcare — How will it affect us?” was the theme for the night. The four, two representing Harmony Magnet Academy and two representing Strathmore High, exhibited poise and oratory skills that demonstrate hard work and commitment.
Runners up Christopher Warson from Strathmore, Yvette Lemus and Cassidy Vanasen from Harmony, all said they did not expect to win, but wanted to participate for the experience.
“I thought [Victoria] did a great job,” Vanasen said. “I really think she deserved to win.”
“It was fun to do, and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t expect to win,” Warson said.
Contest Chairman Jeremy Powell, Bartlett Middle School principal, said he enjoys the program because of what it does for students.
“It stimulates self expression and independent thinking in young people, and I really appreciate that,” Powell said.
“This was not an easy topic for them, but they all did exceptionally well.”
Vanasen’s mother Candy Vanasen was present, as was Warson’s father, Starr Warson.
Vanasen was philosophical about her daughter not taking first place.
“They are all winners,” she said. “I was so proud of her up there, very proud. I told her on the way down that it wasn’t about the win. Just taking the opportunity to do it was a good thing. A lot of kids wouldn’t.”
All presented support information regarding the value — or not — of universal health care, much of which was based on results from countries such as Japan and Germany. Overall, cost to taxpayers was a notable “against” providing medical care for the poor was an equally notable “for.”
This group of students was sponsored locally by the Porterville Breakfast Lions Club, but student contestants from Porterville High were sponsored by the Springville Lions Club.
The winner of that contest was Patrick Lewis, finalists were Ziqi Wan and Jonathan Muller.
Lewis and Loeffler will move on to the Lions Zone Contest to be held March 9.
If they continue in their winning ways, they will be invited to the 2009-2010 Multiple District Four final contest that will be held June 5 in Stockton. The winner of that contest will receive a $10,000 scholarship.
Students were judged on poise, originality, persuasiveness and presentation of content, among other things.
That was for the contest.
For some, the personal views were not so conclusive on a topic the government and the American people are challenged with. Warson said he is against it because, according to his research, if universal health care comes about, it will not be as good for people as many think.
Vanasen and Lemus were not so sure, and agreed on a position of neutrality.
“I’m neutral on universal health care,” Lemus said. “It’s a very complicated thing, and there are some good and bad things about it. So for now, I’m neutral.”