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Nora Cahill, a Kingston resident and a junior at the Montrose School in Medfield, was the winner of the Medfield Lions Club’s annual Youth Speech Competition. Nora went on to place in the top 15 of the statewide competition sponsored by the Lions Clubs of Massachusetts.
The competition started last November when high school students all over the state were invited to write a speech lasting between 5 and 8 minutes answering the question, “What is the impact of volunteerism?” Steve Small, chairman of the Youth Speech Contest for the Medfield Lions, worked with the speech and debate coaches at both the Montrose School and Medfield High School to give their students the opportunity to enter.
Lions Clubs all over the state held the first round of competition in December. Ms. Cahill won the Medfield Lions Club competition, which featured six student speakers from Medfield High School and the Montrose School. Nora quickly moved through two more levels of competition in January, traveling to Millis on Saturday mornings to best other speakers representing Millis and Medway, among others. Nora’s run in the competition ended at the fourth of five levels, where she was one of the runners-up in the Greater Boston Area finals. Her top-15 finish at the state level continues a very strong showing by Montrose students in the annual competition; in addition to Ms. Cahill’s top-15 finish this year, other Montrose students have placed in the top 10, and won the state championship twice in the last five years.
The competition gets harder at each new level, not only because all the speakers have already won previous competitions, but also because the rules change slightly. For example, in the early rounds, the speakers are allowed to read their speech from a manuscript; by the State Finals, the speakers are allowed to use only one 3x5 index card when delivering their speech. Speeches were judged on the cohesiveness of the text, the impact of the message, and the delivery.
Ms. Cahill’s speech opened with a description of the scene at her family Christmas, and the “warm, fuzzy feeling” she gets from seeing her younger cousins open their presents. Her speech continued by discussing Nora’s pursuit of that warm, fuzzy feeling by volunteering on a regular basis, including her founding of a student service organization within the Montrose School. Ms. Cahill then cited statistics from studies of volunteerism on a global basis, which showed that volunteering helped the volunteers just as much, if not more, than the people they helped, concluding “Volunteerism is the ultimate mutually beneficial action of our society.” Ms. Cahill closed her speech by urging those present to “leave here tonight in unending pursuit of that warm, fuzzy feeling.”
For those who'd like to rise to Ms. Cahill’s challenge, Lions Club International is the world’s largest volunteer service organization. For information about joining the Medfield Lions Club, contact the Lion Lee Tredway at firstname.lastname@example.org.