Oratorical skills at church academy

Christopher Hawkins

Oratorical skills at church academy
April 19
17:30 2018

Not many can execute well the art of public speaking at a young age.  The young men of Ephesus Junior Academy recently competed in an oratorical program aimed at improving their public speaking skills along with teaching them a lesson on the importance of serving.

Five young men, ranging in grade levels from sixth to eighth grade, delivered their personally written speeches centered on the topic of the inspiration to serve.  All of the contestants presented dynamic works on their interpretation of the topic.

The contestants were Robert Damon, Landon Elliot, Christopher Hawkins, Jordan Spivey and Nicholas Whitaker.  The young men shook off some early jitters and gave speeches that seemed to be well beyond their years.

After some deliberation from the judges, Hawkins was determined the winner followed by Elliot and Spivey (tied for second), Damon and Whitaker.

The stage presence from Hawkins really separated him from the other young gentleman.  His ability to make the crowd laugh and think won him the contest.

“I was inspired by having two of my brothers graduate from this school and I’ve always been inspired to serve like they have served,” said Hawkins.  “I have always been inspired to do things for the Lord because he will be the one that saves me in the end.”

“I knew that I would be tense and I figured that if I move around I might project better in that sense,” he continued.  “The word serve, to me, means helping others to learn more about Jesus and how to be better stewards and if Jesus can serve his disciples by washing their feet, then I can come and serve others as well.”

Hawkins says this is the first time he has won a trophy in any capacity.  He feels it is great to win his first one by serving God and speaking His words.

Damon, who finished in fourth place, added, “I just thought about everything that I do when it comes to serving and just put it together for the speech.  I like serving God because of how much he has served for us.  I like competing because I learned a lot while writing my speech.

Betty Bailey, Ephesus Junior Academy principal, says she felt all of the young men did a phenomenal job.  She said it was an even better feeling for her because the young men incorporated some of their school readings into their speeches, which means they are absorbing the material.

“It feels good as an educator because you never know what is sticking or what is not,” Bailey said.  “To know the things we are teaching them and instilling in them, they are taking it to heart, feels good.”

Bailey says she was not surprised by the performance of Hawkins because he has a “natural ability to engage others.” 

The oratorical contest was held in honor of former teacher John W. Grier, who founded the contest in the early 1980s.  The contest went away for some time, but was revived nine years ago.

Contest organizer Ernestine Swift says she thanks God for the students being able to “exceed her expectations.”  She feels teaching young people about the importance of serving will assist them greatly as they mature into adults.

“We are trying to instill in them to serve God and to serve your fellow man,” Swift said.  “This is our duty and it’s a duty of Ephesus Junior Academy to train young people in that vein.”

Minister Curby Buford, coordinator of Winston Lake YMCA, gave a message to the young men following their performances.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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