Students Excel at 2023 Speak Up Competition

Students Excel at 2023 Speak Up Competition
Posted on 04/26/2023

     Mountain View School District’s top student speakers showcased their public speaking and speech writing skills at the District’s annual Speak Up Competition.   Following the competition theme “My Community” each speaker shared a community they are a part of and how it has shaped them, as well as how they could give back to their community in a positive way, and how their actions would benefit the community around them.    

       In front of a full auditorium, the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students confidently took the stage to present their well-researched, creatively written and articulately delivered speeches.  Charged with the difficult task of judging the speeches were representatives from local Elks Lodges including, Robert L. Duitsman, Past Grand Exalted Ruler (National Elks President), Culver City Lodge #1917, Mary Garcia, Past Exalted Ruler, Alhambra/San Gabriel Elks Lodge #1328 and Donna McEntire, Educational Consultant, Vice President of the Azusa Emblem Club #325 and member, Elks Lodge #1427 who judged the contestants in the areas of content, delivery and language.  The trio of judges were overwhelmed with the quality of speeches presented by the students.

       “The students did a phenomenal job with their speeches,” said McEntire.  “All of the speeches were very well written and really depicted how much the students value the community they belong to.  It was not an easy task to select the winners, they were all excellent.”   

         In their speeches the students shared their love for a community that supports and has shaped them into the person they are today.  Contestants spoke about their city, a sports team, the Top Sail program, the AVID program, the gaming community, the art community, the recovery community, their family, and more.

      The winner of the seventh and eighth grade division, Leanna Valenzuela from Parkview School, conveyed her appreciation for the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) community at her school which has provided a sense of family for her.

      “Sometimes life is hard and you can feel alone but thanks to my AVID community at Parkview, I found family,” said Valenzuela.  “I love my AVID community and everything I’ve learned being a part of it.  I’ve always dreamed of being a teacher and I will forever be grateful to AVID for teaching me the skills I need to reach my dream.  I look forward to continuing AVID in high school and achieving my dream of becoming not just a teacher, but an AVID teacher.”

       Taking top honors in the sixth-grade division was Britany Jimenez-Rodriguez from Monte Vista School, who delivered a heart-felt speech about the art community she belongs to.

      “Community is essential for building a fulfilling life,” said Jimenez-Rodriguez. “Art, whether it’s painting, cinema, or photography, can help to calm my emotions and research shows participating in art can reduce stress and increase endorphins. One way I’d like to support this important community is to establish and develop an art club for youth.”                                             

       MVSD’s Superintendent, Dr. Raymond Andry, was extremely proud of the students and grateful so many of them have found a positive community in programs at their schools.

      “The Speak Up Competition is such a wonderful event for our District that really showcases our students,” said Andry.  “The students do such a tremendous job and I am always so impressed with their speeches.  Not only are they wonderfully written, but they deliver them with such confidence and poise.  Public speaking is not easy, but the speak up contestants make it look effortless. It was also great to hear how much our students value programs like AVID, Top Sail, and leadership which provide a sense of community for them.” 

      Each contestant was a school level winner in their school’s speak up competition and represented their school greatly at the District level competition.  With the support of their teachers and coaches they spent many hours researching, writing and perfecting their speeches.  This year’s sixth grade participants included Angel Nguyen from Baker School, Levi Zubieta from Maxson School, Emilee Acuna from Miramonte School, Britany Jimenez -Rodriguez from Monte Vista School, Edith Cruz-Rivas from Parkview School, Emma Chavez from Payne School and Aaron Gutierrez and Elisa Maldonado from Twin Lakes School.   The seventh and eighth grade contestants included Melissa Lopez, Cecilia Rosas and Jesus Buenrostro Gaona from Monte Vista School, Leanna Valenzuela, Lillie Arenas and Angeli Escobar from Parkview School and Martin Garcia, Alyssa Garcia, Zuleyka Cruz and Alanis Sandoval from Twin Lakes School.   

       After the judges conferred and the scoring sheets were tallied, the results were announced.  Joining first place winner, Britany Jimenez-Rodriguez in the sixth-grade division was Emilee Acuna from Miramonte School who earned second place and Edith Cruz-Rivas from Parkview School who earned third place.  For the seventh and eighth grade division it was a sweep by Parkview School with first place going to, Leanna Valenzuela, second place to Angeli Escobar and third place to Lillie Arenas. 

      “It feels great to win,” said Jimenez-Rodriguez.  “I worked really hard on my speech and I’m really happy I won,” she said.

       “I can’t believe I won,” said Valenzuela, who was overcome with emotion. “I was so nervous but it all worked out and I’m very happy my friends from Parkview also did well.  Our coaches, Mrs. Centeno and Mrs. Gorgonio are great.”

       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. 

     “The students were absolutely incredible,” said Veronica Sifuentes, President of the Board of Education.  “Their speeches reflected how passionate they are about their community and the support they receive by being a part of them.  Each contestant showed great composure and confidence and it was evident they put a lot of time and effort into their speeches. Our District is extremely proud of them.”

     The District Speak Up Competition is one of many academic enrichment activities MVSD offers 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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