KIPP Academy Junior Speaks Out in Lions Youth Speech Contest

The Lions Clubs of Lynn are very proud of KIPP Academy Collegiate junior, Temitope (Tope) Sholola, for her public speaking achievement this year as Lynn’s representative in the Lions District 33N Youth Speech Competition, which was held on January 16th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Woburn.  Tope spoke out with enthusiasm and passion sharing her views on how social media has changed the lives of today’s young people.  After telling why social media has played such a pivotal role in our everyday lives, Tope explained how it “has altered the culture and language of our generation,” and even though it is used for educational and communication purposes, that it is also “used to create the illusion of an effortlessly perfect life.”  Tope speaks about how “social media constantly bombards the youth with unattainable standards of beauty,” explaining how the advocate for positive body image, model Zendaya, recently exposed the magazine “Modeliste” in an Instagram for posting an altered photo of her after the magazine photoshopped an image of her actual picture making her body look perfect.  Tope asserts that “Our self-confidence is now reliant on digital “likes” that reassure us that we are in fact imitating effectively.  We now favor the idea of getting “likes” and “followers” rather than building genuine connections with others.”  Tope concludes her speech by saying that social media may add a positive aspect to our everyday lives, but it is also negatively affecting young people in our society by preventing them from being able to be “truly happy”.

The purpose of the Lions speech competition is to provide an opportunity for high school students to speak publicly on a designated topic of general interest. This year’s topic was “IN WHAT WAYS HAS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED SOCIETY?”  Tope started the Lions speech contest at the local level in November competing with nine other high school students from the five high schools in Lynn.  These students competed in contests within their own schools before two students from each school were chosen to participate in the local competition.  Other competing students were:  Jacob DeFillipo and Osayi Aylinla from Lynn English; Halima Abdi and Kelly Tran from Classical; Caitlyn Donegan and Nickolas Braga from Lynn Vocational Institute; Arlenis Mendez and Lemah Simpson from St. Mary’s Regional High School; and Michele Garcia and Temitope Sholola from KIPP Academy Collegiate.  Nickolas Braga, Michele Garcia and Tope were the finalists in the local contest and went on to the zone competition in December.  The three top qualifiers were selected to represent the city’s three Lions Clubs – Lynn, Wyoma and Shoe City Lions – at the zone level contest.  As the finalist in the zone competition, Tope went on to participate at the district level where she came in as first runner up.  The competition culminates in April with five statewide district winners vying for the title of BEST IN THE STATE.  There have been many Lynn students who have made it to the district and statewide finals in past years.

Donna Hartshorn from Shoe City Lions who is the coordinator of the event said, “Each student put so much effort into writing and delivering these speeches that we consider them all to be winners, but our set of three independent and impartial judges, who are different for each contest level, determine the finalists by their individual scores; and each set of judges thought that Tope gave an outstanding presentation.  We are grateful to the teachers/coaches who work many long hours with our students:  Colbe Mazzarella and Kevin Gallagher from Lynn English; Barbara Binette from Classical; Jeremy McKeen from the Vocational Institute; Mike Jalbert from St. Mary’s; and Chris Norkun and Kerri Brown from KIPP Academy.  We also thank Superintendent Catherine Latham and those Lynn superintendents before her who have supported this contest through the years.”

The Lions Youth Speech Program started in Massachusetts in the late 1980s. Lynn has participated since the start of the program.  Shoe City Lion Sally Cuffe was the coordinator for many years.  The Lions Club is an international charitable association of 1.4 million men and women, who were named by Helen Keller as her “Knights of the Blind.” Their activities include eyeglass-recycling, eye research, community service projects such as the Lions International Peace Poster Contest for middle school students, the Massachusetts All State Band for high school students, and the annual Youth Speech Contest for high-school students.  Students who are interested in taking part in next year’s youth speech program should contact the coaches at their individual high schools.

Submitted by:  Donna Hartshorn, Shoe City Lions, 781-599-1385,  [email protected]

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