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Delaney Finnegan Wins North Fork Lions Club Speakers Contest

NORTH FORK — In her first time participating in the North Fork Lions Club Student Speaker Contest, Minarets High School senior Delaney Finnegan won top honors.

This year marks the 80th annual competition, and the topic for this year’s speeches is “Is the Right to Privacy a Threat to our National Security?”

Four students delivered their speeches on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Scout Building in North Fork and Jon Norby, local chairman for the Speakers Contest for over 30 years, said this was the closest competition he has ever seen.

“This was a tough one,” said Norby after the speeches were delivered. “I don’t envy those of you who are judging.”

Other speakers in this year’s competition included:

Caleb Lynch, Delaney Finnegan, Aaron Hall and Joshua Lynch, North Fork Lions Club Speech Contest Feb. 9, 2017 – photo by Gina Clugston

Joshua Lynch, a senior at Chawankee Academy participating for the fourth year, had just competed in the Academic Decathlon. He plays football, is part of the Guitar Ensemble, and is active in several school organizations. His Senior Project is teaching coding to other students.

Caleb Lynch is a sophomore at Chawanakee Academy, and also competed in the Academic Decathlon. He plays football and classical guitar, and participates in numerous other campus organizations.

Aaron Hall, whose brother Grant won the competition in 2015, is a sophomore at Minarets High School. He plays football and baseball, and participates in Key Club and several other school organizations.

Winner Delaney Finnegan is a senior at Minarets and a competitive dancer outside of school. She is very active in campus organizations as are all these students. They all seem to follow the sage advice of Aaron’s father, Lt. Col. David Hall, who counsels, “You need to take advantage of now.”

Delaney received $100 for her win, with $25 going to each of the other speakers.

The purpose of the contest is:

• To provide an opportunity for competitive public speaking among students on a subject of vital interest to the contestants and to the American people as a whole.
• To stimulate self-expression and independent thinking.
• To present to the public through the student speakers contests the problems surrounding the maintenance of this commonwealth as a free nation.
• To consider the means at our disposal of meeting the present and future world problems.

Students in the North Fork Lions Club area have achieved great success in the past few years. The 2013 winner Breanna Cairns, then a senior at Minarets, went on from her North Fork win to take top prize in four more competitions – Zone, Region, District and Area – advancing to the finals in Torrance, Calif. Breanna became the first student from North Fork to advance past the third level in the annual contest, winning over $11,000 in scholarships from the Lions Club.

In 2014, Minarets senior Mikayla Kopp repeated this accomplishment, making it all the way to the finals, where she finished second.

This year’s faculty coaches are Becky Cairns, teacher at Chawanakee Academy and mother of 2013 winner Breanna; and Jessica Sweet, Ag. teacher at Minarets High School. The contest was judged by Tom Wheeler, Dr. Ed Fey, Doug Waltner, and Gina Clugston.

The Student Speaker Foundation is a California nonprofit corporation administered by a board of directors and 15 trustees. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide scholarships to augment the prizes awarded to the winners of the California Multiple District Four Student Speakers Program.

This year the Foundation will provide scholarships totaling $103,500. From this amount, each of the fifteen District winners will receive a $4,500 scholarship, each of the four Area winners will receive an additional $6,500 scholarship, and the winner of the Multiple District Four Contest will receive an additional $10,000 scholarship.

Delaney will now move on to the Zone Contest which will be held in Oakhurst in March. Winners from the Zone Contests move on to Region, followed by District, Area, and then the Finals in early June, exact dates and locations to be announced.

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