Speak Up Competition Focuses on Mental Health

Speak Up Competition Focuses on Mental Health
Posted on 02/21/2024

Eloquently speaking on the topic of Mental Health, Mountain View School District’s top student speakers in sixth through eighth grade demonstrated their speech writing and public speaking skills at the District’s Annual Speak Up Competition.  Aligned with the competition theme Mental Health, each contestant addressed what mental health is, why it is important and how it plays an important role in our lives. 

The contestants were all winners at their school site competitions and did an excellent job representing their schools at the District event.  With poise and confidence, each student took to the podium to present their creatively written, well-researched and articulately delivered speeches. 

Serving as judges for the event were Ben Ortega, Past District Deputy to the Grand Exalted Ruler for the West Covina Elks, Mary Garcia, Past Exalted Ruler for the Alhambra/San Gabriel Elks, and Donna McEntire, Education Consultant and Vice President of the Azusa Emblem Club.  The judges evaluated the contestants in the areas of content, delivery and language and were greatly impressed with the student speakers.

“We had a very difficult challenge as judges,” said McEntire.  “All the students were well prepared and did an excellent job conveying the importance of mental health.”

In their speeches, the students shared the staggering statistics that poor mental health affects one in five people and one in every three high school students struggle with mental health issues.  They also shared a few of the ways they take care of their own mental health and achieve a healthy state of mind by exercising, talking to friends, listening to music, and getting enough sleep. 

Placing first in the 6th grade division was Tam Yen Ho from Baker School, who spoke about using art as a way to keep her mental health in good standing. 

“When I’m feeling anxious or stressed I like to draw,” said Ho. “Art lets me enter a world of imagination and instead of destroying things I create things,” she said.

Taking second place was Jaymie Andrade from Parkview School and third place went to Elise Gonzalez Ochoa from Monte Vista School. 

“This was my first time doing public speaking and it feels very good to get second place,” said Andrade.  “I’ve been working on my speech since we got back from winter break and I’m so excited I won.”

The 7th and 8th grade division winners included first place, Emilee Acuna from Monte Vista School who shared the importance of being kind to yourself and to others, and knowing your limits and how to calm yourself down.

 “It’s important to surround yourself with positive friends and put yourself first.  Avoiding toxic friends is essential and checking in on each other is important,” she said.  “When you see someone’s spirit coming through it’s beautiful.”

Earning second place for 7th & 8th grade was Liliana Pineda Manriquez from Monte Vista School, and third place went to Edith Cruz-Rivas from Parkview School.

Along with many family members and friends in attendance to support the students, Board of Education members, school and district administrators and staff all agreed the contestants were exceptional. 

“All of the speakers did a great job telling their stories,” said Christian Diaz, MVSD Board of Education President.  “The topic of mental health is right on point with what I do as a Social Worker and the students really captured the essence of what young people are dealing with in our community.  I’m so proud of them all and how they articulated the importance of taking care of themselves in difficult times and when they are doing well.”

According to proud parent, Vanessa Arroyo, programs like the Speak Up, student council and after school cheerleading have helped her daughter come out of her shell. 

“I’m so grateful my daughter had the opportunity to participate in this competition,” said Vanessa Arroyo, proud mom of contestant, Jaymie Andrade.  “It’s been wonderful to see her self-confidence grow and it’s so fun to see her shine. I’m so very proud of her.”

Supported by their teachers and coaches all of the participants spent many hours researching, writing and perfecting their speeches. This year’s sixth grade participants included Tam Yen Ho from Baker School, Edgar Garcia from Maxson School, Samantha Luque from Miramonte School, Elise Gonzalez Ochoa from Monte Vista School, Jaymie Andrade from Parkview School, Alondra Salazar from Payne School and Angel Hurtado from Twin Lakes School.   The seventh and eighth grade contestants included Emilee Acuna, Britany Jimenez -Rodriguez, Liliana Pineda Manriquez and Brianna Herrera from Monte Vista School, Edith Cruz Rivera, Stephanie Tang, Brianda Flores and Camila Meza from Parkview School and Jessica Fernandez, Aileen Perez, Martin Garcia and Alvin Lim from Twin Lakes School. 

Judge, Ben Ortega was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the event.

“This was really rewarding for me,” said Ortega.  “It was not easy to select the winners, they all did great, and some of the speeches were spot on and came from the heart. These students were wonderful and your are doing really good stuff in Mountain View.”

Dr. Raymond Andry, Superintendent enjoys the Speak Up Competition and feels it is a great event for the District.

The Speak Up really spotlights our students and I am always so impressed with our contestants and their ability to deliver their speeches with such confidence and poise,” he said.  “Public speaking is not easy and is something many adults don’t like to do, but our speak up contestants make it look effortless.  They all did a tremendous job and I am extremely proud of them.  I also appreciate the hard work of our Speak Up coaches from each site who worked with our students, helping to prepare them for the competition.”

MVSD is proud to offer programs like the Speak Up Competition and many other academic enrichment activities to enhance the educational program and provide students the opportunity to express their views and develop skills that will help them in their high school, college and career journeys.  


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