BUCHANS, NL – Eight students from grades 4 to 11 participated in the annual Lions Club speak-out at Lakeside Academy Feb. 20.
Teacher/coach Jennifer Perry says along with building confidence and improving skills such as memory, writing and reading, the event improves students’ personal and socialization skills and the ability to negotiate and communicate.
“In a world filled with school shootings, ‘Me Too’ hashtags and shocking mental illness statistics, the voices of our youth must not be silenced,” said Perry.
The first two speakers were Grade 4 students Layah Penney and Olivia White, who spoke on bullying.
“If more people talk about bullying, maybe bullying will stop,” White said.
She spoke about how she had been bullied and its effect on her, adding that speaking to her mother and friends made her feel better, highlighting the importance of telling someone as part of the process to stop bullying.
Layah Penney described different types of bullying – verbal, social and physical – and gave some statistics on bullying in Canada for her age group.
She is optimistic it can be conquered.
“I believe we can stand up to bullying,” she said. “We can talk our problems out instead of fighting.
“We shouldn't have to worry about what we wear, what we look like or that somebody will make fun of us,” Penney added. “We should be free to be ourselves and enjoy being kids. Together I think we can put an end to bullying – a compliment a day goes a long way, kindness is a wonderful thing, let’s share it!”
As students completed their presentations, Don Squires and Derm Corbett asked questions about their chosen subjects. Judges then took their notes and score sheets into another room to make their decisions.
Though not judged on their speeches, Olivia White and Layah Penney received praise for their efforts along with a medal each and monetary awards.
In the junior high division, Chloe Piller placed first, Peter Wilkins second and Eryn Gushue third. They each received a plaque and a monetary award.
Derrick Ball also received a participant plaque and a monetary award.
In the senior high division, Mequila Lafitte placed first and will represent the Buchans Lions Club at the zone speak-out in Springdale. Her alternate and second-place winner was Abby Eveleigh. They both received a trophy and a monetary award for their efforts.
Buchans Lion Club president Hilda Budden had the honor of presenting the prizes.
“I think they all did an excellent job,” said Budden, who personally isn’t fond of speaking in public. “They were very calm, calmer than I would be up there!”
Lions Club school liaison Louis White thanked those who made the evening a success, especially the students.
“Thank you, students for sharing your thoughts, ideas and concerns and for defending your topics – great job,” White said.
In their own words
Junior high category
“What you think of yourself is more important than what other people think of you. A smart teacher once told me that nobody else can give you self-confidence, it's all on you.”
“Photography is fun, however it isn't the act of taking a photo that is exciting to me, but the where, why and how a picture is taken. It's not as simple as taking a quick selfie; a photo should involve energy and emotion to set a mood and bring the viewer into the picture.”
“Littering is one of the biggest problems in this world today. It's hurting this earth and in return the litter is going to hurt us. We can't fix the damage already done, but that doesn't mean you should continue to add to that damage.”
“Technology has improved our lives, technology helps us stay connected to people in other places in seconds. Everyone here today young or old, just think for a moment how different would your lives be without the advancements of technology today.”
Senior high category
“Traditional education covers the basics and only the basics. But just as important are the treasured skills of critical thinking and analyzing – not the rote memorization and the how long can you sit still. The education system currently in use does not teach us transferable skills that we'll carry with us all of our lives.”
“In my eyes, weed is dangerous and there's no point in legalizing it. The Liberal platform says that legalizing weed will keep it out of the hands of children, which I don't agree with because, yes, children won't be legally able to purchase the drug, but they can get an adult to buy it for them.... Weed is not natural for your body ... the only natural substance that goes into your lungs is oxygen.”