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Students Take Speech Honors
Students Megan Mullins, left, and Rachel Swift recently took top honors in a sectional FFA Speech Competition and will move on to the regional level next. Marg Jackson/The Times

Sophomore Megan Mullins and freshman Rachel Swift know their stuff.

And it paid off, as the two Escalon High School students recently took first place honors in the Delta-Cal Section FFA Speech Competition.

“The Delta-Cal section consists of 17 schools in our area,” explained Escalon FFA Advisor and ag teacher Jennifer Terpstra, noting it covers an area including Manteca, Tracy, Lodi, Angels Camp, Calaveras, Linden and Ripon.

Students competed on Dec. 11, with Mullins first in the Prepared Speech category and Swift tops in the FFA Creed contest.

“There are many contests that day,” Terpstra added. “Prepared Speech, in which a student writes, memorizes, presents and answers questions; FFA Creed Recitation, which is only for ninth graders, they memorize the FFA Creed by EM Tiffany, recite, then answer questions about what parts of the Creed mean to them.”

For Mullins, it was the second time she has participated in the speech competition, last year in the Creed as a freshman and this year in the longer, more involved Prepared Speech.

“I had to prepare a speech between five and eight minutes, present it to three judges and they ask you questions for about five minutes,” Mullins said.

Her topic, which she chose, was food safety and she said by doing all her own research on the topic, she feels she learned it well and was able to deliver her speech by memory and answer all questions thrown at her.

“I had heard about it last year, when a friend of mine did it,” she said of the prepared speech contest. “All summer I was planning what I wanted to do.”

She also did several hundred surveys on the topic of food safety and her speech emphasized the need for educating the public on the topic.

For Swift, she said memorizing the five-paragraph creed wasn’t too difficult, but she had to study each part of the address in order to take questions from the judges, since there was no way to tell what they might ask.

She had her own reasons for wanting to get involved in the competition.

“Number one, my dad did it,” she said. “Two, I know that I’m pretty good at public speaking and three, I am good at memorizing. Now I am thinking about doing the prepared speech.”

Escalon also had a third place finisher in the creed contest, Natalie Bianchi, and all will be going to the regional preliminary contest in February.

Mullins said she will revise her speech a little, after discussing the work with the judges.

Regional preliminaries will be Feb. 12 at Galt High School.

“They will be up against the top four speakers from the other five sections in the Central region, with potentially 24 contestants in each of the speech contests,” Terpstra said. “If they make the top eight there, then they go on to the regional contest on Feb. 22. The top four at regions in each speech contest will go on to state in April.”

Other Escalon participants in the section contest included Colten Watson and Darian Caton in Job Interview, while Addy Luis, Kenlee Hiatt, and Lizzie Britton did Impromptu Speech.