Potrero School Speech Competition

by Arlene Bury

El Monte

On June 5th the auditorium at El Monte City School District’s Potrero School was filled with anxious participants, their families, friends and teachers.  All were in attendance to watch the Potrero Speech Club members give their presentations and compete for scholarship awards.
Speech Club faculty sponsor, Wes Nicholson, who is also the full-time Speech-Language Pathologist at Potrero said, “Most of the students in Speech Club will be the first in their families to go to college. The goal of Speech Club is to build the students’ communicative confidence and help prepare them for the college opportunity.”
That confidence was evident as 13 students gave their speeches.  In his speech, participant Juan Piceno, said he wanted to be a mechanical engineer.  Nicole Lohman wants to be an architect and design homes for low income people. Melissa Hernandez said she enjoys cheering people up and wants a career in fashion design.  Daniel Gonzalez is interested in kinesiology and how the body moves and wants to be a coach or personal trainer someday.  Evelyn Peredes wisely stated, “Being happy doing what you love to do is success.”
The crowd listened attentively to each participant and then waited patiently as the judges scored each presentation. The judges were Principal Liz Raymond, Outreach Consultant Ricardo Padilla, and teachers Kathy McPherson and Robert Schrader.
Each student‘s speech was impressive.  But one student was particularly impressive.  His name is Jose Nolasco.  It was apparent from the first words he spoke that he had a special message.  Jose was born deaf and now has a cochlear implant to aid with his hearing.  Jose walked with the same confidence that the other students had.  He proudly addressed the crowd. He spoke of how he admired his one-to-one support specialist, Gabby Santos, who had previously worked with blind students.   Jose’s poignant speech left few dry eyes in the audience.
EMCSD Assistant Superintendant Cynthia Traino commented, “I’m glad I’m not a judge.  That would be a difficult decision.”
After a few anxious minutes the winners were announced.  Santiago Alvillar was awarded first place and a $500 scholarship.  Second place went to Dana Hua winning a $300 scholarship.  Nicole Lohman took third place and won a $250 scholarship.  Fourth place was awarded to Jose Nolasco winning a $200 scholarship.
First place winner Sanitago Alvillar said, “I’ve learned a lot in Speech Club.  I’ve learned not to be nervous, to walk confidently, speak loudly and be prepared.”
Potrero School Speech Club is a lunch time club available to all 6th grade students. Students have spent the year working on their speech skills, using the SPEAK strategy:  Staying on Topic, Posture, Eye Contact, Articulation, and Knowing their Material.

Congratulations and hats off to Wes Nicholson for sponsoring the Potrero Speech Club.

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