Speech Contest Awes Adults

City of Alameda    Winners of the City of Alameda’s Season for Nonviolence Speech Contest high-school division pose with the judges of their division.

As a first-time judge for the City of Alameda’s Season for Nonviolence Speech Contest held last Saturday at City Hall, I have to say, Alameda’s young generation has some bright stars ready to lead humanity into the future. The combination of poise, creativity and clarity woven into stories of personal experience and exhortations to action brought tears to my eyes more than once.

Middle school-age division winner Brie Ingram, an eighth grader from Encinal Junior Jets spoke with the kind of passion that moves entire rooms of people to empathize with her struggle. High School -age division winner Nathaniel Yee, a 10th grader at Alameda High School, laid it out plainly by pointing out giving to someone is selfless, finding ways to not give is selfish. 

The speeches were required to include a quote from a Nobel Peace Prize winner and center on the theme of “Envisioning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘beloved community’ in Alameda.” Speeches were limited to 3 to 5 minutes. We judged them on adherance to the theme, delivery and message.

All the speakers were impressive, but the judges managed to suss out the top four (with one tie) in each age category. Middle school: First, Ingram; second, Dayne Ranck-Ross, sixth grade, Child Unique Montessori; third, Carmen Baskette, seventh grade, Lincoln Middle School and fourth, David Hernandez, sixth grade, Child Unique Montessori. High School: First, Yee; second, Mahsa Fuhrkunda, ninth grade, Alameda Science & Technology Institute (ASTI); third, Stevie Jefferson, 11th grade, Island High School and tied for fourth: Emily Farley, ninth grade, ASTI and Brian Lin, ninth grade, Encinal High School. Each winner received a certificate and a cash prize. Each entrant also received a certificate signed by Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.

Held in the Council Chambers, the speech contest was hosted by City of Alameda’s Ana Bagtas, Lois Butler and Eric Fonstein. Sponsors included the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs of Alameda, Alameda Unified School District and Supervisor Wilma Chan’s Office. 

I proudly served alongside fellow judges: Ceressa Allen, Roslyn Begun, Lois Butler, Donna Marie Ferro, Cheryl Harawitz, John Lipp and Harry Reppert.

The Season for Nonviolence is sponsored by the Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth and their Families. It is commemorated globally from Jan. 30 to April 4 to remember the legacy of Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi and to immortalize their contributions and teachings that inspired countless others worldwide in pursuing peace through noviolent means. 

Eric J. Kos    Winners of the middle-school division stand with Sylvia Gibson, left, Island High School teacher, who pioneered and has been helping coordinate the contest for the past 20 years.