Chagrin Falls High School students Ali Holtz and Fiona Garvey came in second and first at this year’s Chagrin Valley Rotary Four-Way Test Speech Contest.  

The competition gives students the opportunity to apply the principles of Rotary International’s Four-Way Test to a current ethical issue. Students are challenged to identify a topic they feel strongly about and to adopt a point of view from which they will seek to persuade others. The speech must be 5-7 minutes in length. Each part of the Four-Way Test should be addressed during the speech: 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?”

Ali Holtz selected the topic of school segregation and its lasting impacts on low-income or minority populations.  Holtz is passionate about this topic and feels it was a great opportunity to speak on the possibilities for change and growth within varying conflicts facing Americans right now.  ” I am really thankful for the opportunity the Rotary Club gave me to share my perspective on a crucial conversation for the future of this generation,” said Holtz.

“Even though I do plenty of speaking in front of smaller groups through my participation in the high school debate team, the Rotary speech was definitely a new challenge for me due to its flexible topic range and size of the audience,” said Holtz.  “The night before, I practically called anyone in my phone contacts that would listen to my speech so I could practice it in front of new people.  I’m super thankful for my younger sister who probably ended up hearing my speech around 20 times by the time I was done.”

Fiona Garvey selected the topic of mental illness in schools.  She stated in her speech, “For students, school and stress go hand and hand, so by improving schools to be more comfortable environments for discussions over mental health, we encourage the reduction of that stress. The first step, however, is to diagnose mental disorders early on through mental health screenings. By doing so, I believe that we can reduce the stigma around mental illness and change the culture in schools, and the community, for the better.”

“I was thrilled to participate in this competition,” said Garvey.  “I am so grateful to the Rotary for giving us a platform to share our opinions and knowledge of pressing issues in our community. Hearing the other participants speak was extremely inspiring, and I hope that my speech inspired others as well.”

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