Students Raise Awareness at Rotary 4-Way Test Speech Contest

High school students challenged listeners to increase addiction awareness, reach past surface impressions, broaden their world view and deal gracefully with change as they competed in the 2018 Rotary 4-Way Test Speech contest at the Rotary Club of Cincinnati in February.

The contest challenges students to incorporate the Rotary’s 4-way ethical standards test into a speech that captures each student’s passion. The standards ask if statements are true, fair, build goodwill and are beneficial to all.

The winning speaker was Rithu Rajagopala of Sycamore Township, a Walnut Hills High School junior. She talked about what she called “lookism” – the pervading practice of letting outward looks dictate our evaluation of ourselves and others. She said everything from skin color and weight to what clothes you wear can block individuals from getting to know each other’s beliefs, values and opinions.  “Lookism crushes the belief that one can do and be anything,” she said. “It’s time to start a new trend – we are all beautiful.”

High schools throughout Greater Cincinnati held in-school speech contests to choose the four finalists who competed at The Rotary Club of Cincinnati meeting in February. Rajagopala will represent The Rotary Club of Cincinnati at the district-wide Rotary speech contest at Wright State University on April 8, competing against students from more than 30 high schools in southwest Ohio.   

Other students competing at the Rotary Club of Cincinnati event were Glory Lee of Wyoming, a junior at Wyoming High School, who spoke about the importance of expanding your perspective; Andrew Smith of Finneytown, a freshman at DePaul Cristo Rey High School, who talked stirringly about the impact of addiction; and Kenielle Young of Avondale, a senior at Shroder High School, who challenged the audience to move out of their comfort zone to embrace change.

Rotary Club of Cincinnati President Al Koncius of Indian Hill presented each contestant with a Rotary coin imprinted with the 4-way test. The contestants also received cash prizes of $150, $125, $100 and $75.

“These are outstanding, passionate young people who spoke from their hearts,” said Speech Contest Chair Brett Lebhar of Anderson Township. He said the contest helps students build communication skills and confidence. This was the fourth annual 4-Way Test speech contest hosted by the Rotary Club of Cincinnati.

Rotary is a professional service and networking organization bringing business professionals together to benefit the community. The Rotary Club of Cincinnati is the largest and oldest Rotary Club in Greater Cincinnati with close to 350 members.