Housatonic Valley FFA wins oratory glory
In Your Corner
With much poise, students from four high schools took part in the annual National FFA Extemporaneous Public Speaking Career Development Day last Thursday at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.
The district competition, which included participants from Wamogo, Nonnewaug and Northwest Regional high schools, was hosted by Housatonic. Each of the schools takes on the hosting duties for three-year spans, and this is the first year for Housatonic’s turn in the rotation.
The event calls for the young men and women to speak before audiences of judges, fellow students, parents and community members. First-year FFA students recite the FFA Creed. The other contests have members either speak extemporaneously on a random subject or give a prepared speech. All those participating were school winners. Following their presentations, they were asked questions by the judges.
The winners of the district program will go on to the state level. Housatonic’s Sam Bradway of Salisbury received first place for his prepared speech on water management. Olivia LaFontan of Kent took top honors, speaking extemporaneously on how being an FFA member makes one more employable.
Other Housatonic students who were recognized are: Sam Weisman of Salisbury, second place for prepared speech; Patrick Purdy of Sharon, second place for extemporaneous; Eve Cullerton of Salisbury, fourth place for creed and Molly Benack of Salisbury, fifth place for creed.
Bradway spoke of the need for a collaboration between the federal and state governments and private businesses to improve the country’s management of water systems. He said water is one of the most important resources and the need for reform in the way it is distributed is clear.
LaFontan, who described herself as being “chronically shy,” said four years ago she could never picture herself having the confidence to speak before an audience. She attributes the transformation to being part of FFA.
Those taking part in the extemporaneous segment chose three topics randomly and had a half-hour to construct a four- to six-minute speech. LaFontan spoke about agriculture teaching skills and values, as well as leadership qualities that allow for taking initiatives in life. She also noted that she has learned how to deal with both satisfied and dissatisfied customers.
“Farming is in my blood,” said the senior, who plans to attend the select nursing program at UConn in Storrs next year. “Farming goes back a long way in my family and even as a nurse, I think I’ll continue to be involved in it on a personal level.”