(Media release from the Exchange Club of Rome):

The Exchange Club of Rome, America’s Service Club, showcased four area youth last week as they competed in the Youth Speech Contest. Each student composed and presented a speech on the topic of his or her choice, with the overall theme of Patriotism or Americanism. Speeches were judged on content, quality of presentation, adherence to time constraints, the use of notes, and the quality of the answer to a question following each presentation. The Exchange Club of Rome realizes the importance of local high school students to hone their abilities to research, organize their thoughts, and present a speech on a patriotic subject in the form of a timed and judged speech. Rome has incorporated this as part of its Youth Programs of Service area.

The four students spoke on diverse subjects ranging from freedom as a component of American citizenship to problems within the American society, to the importance of taking the first step to start a positive movement, to the Bill of Rights. The winner of the contest this year was Sarai Eubanks of Model High School, who received a financial stipend to continue her education when she graduates and goes on to college.

Sarai’s presentation focused on Freedom as the most important aspect of American citizenship. She supported her thesis with examples from history and the present, of individuals risking their lives and leaving their native countries in order to reach their goal of freedom in the United States of America. Although notes were allowed, she spoke from memory as she guided her audience through the journey of her African American ancestors, discussing that freedom and citizenship to them had a very different meaning than it did to our country’s founding fathers, or to her as a young woman of African American descent today. She reminded the audience of how far this country has come in granting all aspects of citizenship to all its residents, and that we still have much work to do. She left us with the final thought that “Gaining citizenship signifies that the shackles are officially broken”.

Congratulations to each of the four student participants, and especially to Sarai. Pictured below are Chase Vaughn from Unity, Carson Shell from Pepperell, Delaney Steen from Armuchee, Ms. Eubanks, and Exchange Club of Rome President Lee Roberts.