By: Kudratdeep Kaur Dhaliwal
Students throughout the Imperial Valley were awarded for spending their entire Saturday honing their rhetoric and public speaking skills with trophies, plaques and medals.
The event kicked off with a message from the Keynote Speaker ICOE Board Member Alicia Armenta who motivated the students to fulfill their dreams.
The theme of the program was as long as one participated one was a winner no matter what.
“We are excited to have all the students here,” said Migrant Education Program Director Sandra Kofford. “All students are winners just because they are here participating.”
Students learned to differentiate between fact and opinion, which Kofford says would help them become better citizens and play a fundamental role in civic life in decision making.
The tournament is a non-traditional way to strengthen their second language since the program already puts emphasis on math and English.
“This will help students with their self-esteem when speaking in public,” she explained.
A retired teacher from Blanche Charles Elementary School, Alejandra Zertuche, one of the judges at the event, says this is an eye-opening experience where various members of the community have come together to help the students.
“I’ve been a teacher for a long time and it’s giving students a chance to do something new,” she said. “Usually they speak in front of other students they already know and this time it is in front of total strangers.”
Zertuche was among other judges at the event who volunteered her Saturday to offer constructive criticism on the speeches.
Honorable Superior Court Judge Poli Flores also volunteered his time judging the tournament.
“I commend the organizers of this event because public speaking is an effective skill that is applied throughout life in all areas such college and work,” said Flores. “It is good for the students to learn these skills now.”
He said he was also proud to see so many people in the community involved.
Former students also came and served as judges to give back to the community.
Among these were CRLA Lawyer and former CUHS student Beatriz Garcia and former SHS student Ralph Monroy who say they were impressed with the student’s motivation and preparation.
“I’m Hispanic and I used to be a kid once and I know it’s harder for them to volunteer and do this than me,” said Monroy. “Kids have things they like to do on Saturday.”
Local businesses also donated prizes for the raffles.
“This is truly exemplary of what a community can do by coming together to help our students,” says Kofford.
This year’s winner in the High School Debate Division was Southwest High School.
First-place in Middle School Debate went to William Moreno Middle School of Calexico.
Jacklyn Mejia came in first in the 4th grade speech competition while Pricilla Leyva came in first in the 5th grade speech competition.
Denise Solorzano won first-place in the 6th grade Speech Competition while Alberto Arroyo won first in the 7th grade Speech Competition.
First-place in the High School division of the Speech Competition when to Elina Olmedo.