A dozen Skipcha Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders took aim at the enormous power and influence of technology during the school’s annual speech competition.
Each student, chosen from individual classroom competitions, delivered their original speech in front of family members and other guests last Thursday at the Harker Heights school, as well as a panel of community judges.
Fourth-grader Annemarie Ramirez won first place. Fifth-grader John Sims took second place and fourth-grader Presley Smith finished in third place.
Most of the speeches focused on smart phones and other personal devices, pointing out the vast capacity of online technology to make the world safer and more connected, while simultaneously expanding the capability of abusers and spawning addiction and cyberbullying.
After finding out she won the event, Ramirez said she felt nervous at first, but once she took the stage and saw her friends and family, she settled down.
“It’s the best moment of my life,” she said after receiving the first-place trophy and certificate. “I didn’t think I would make it this far.”
The fourth-grader praised Kathy Smallwood, a retired KISD teacher and volunteer at Skipcha Elementary who has mentored speech contestants all 10 years. “Mrs. Smallwood put together strategies and helped me with my expressions,” the winning student said.
The fourth-grader said she was interested in the facts she found regarding use of technology, especially that 80 percent of the 240 million 911 emergency calls placed nationwide every year now come from cell phones.
While most of the speeches centered on modern technology, Ramirez began by asking the audience to imagine a 1920s-era horse-drawn wagon stuck on a dirt road with a broken wheel.
With no network to call for help, you would be stuck for hours without even a video to watch or a game to play to pass the time.
She went on to highlight the everyday uses of technology in providing healthcare, safety measures, navigational aids, and of course, entertainment such as the animatronics of Disney theme parks. She even pointed out the mobile defibrillator available at the school.
To conclude, the fourth-grade speaker asked the audience to consider how unsafe the world would be without modern technological advances.
In the second-place speech, Sims acknowledged the useful conveniences of technology, while warning of the “dark side” of the online world that can dominate people’s attention. He also pointed out the importance of limiting technology use.
Technology has us surrounded, said Smith in the third-place speech, noting that our phones, cars and computers provide convenience and entertainment throughout the day.
It was 10 years ago, Skipcha Assistant Principal Gloria Mays suggested starting an oration contest, sponsored nationally by Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial.
The school principal at the time, Carrie Parker, supported it and current principal Jane Apodaca agreed the tradition is one to keep.
She honored Smallwoodfor her decade of coaching speech contestants.
This year’s speech participants included Yann Lam, Jordan Morales, William Pierce, Adison Snyder, Annemarie Ramirez, Ebony Campbell, Kailie Stapler, Presley Smith, Kaitlin Schapira, John Sims, Katelyn Reyes and Sahara Ruth.