Annually, York Catholic hosts a competitive speech contest to celebrate the power of the written word. Finalists perform speeches in front of the entire student body. Many students create their own original speeches, like brother and sister Brian and Lauren Hand.
Brian Hand’s expression when he placed in the speech contest.
Although some students might loathe public speaking, the Hands relish the opportunity to speak in front of the student body.
“The opportunity to speak and share a voice with the entire student body through the speech festival is a fantastic opportunity that I greatly appreciate,” Brian Hand said.
“The speech contest is a great opportunity for students who want a chance to try out their voices and share what they have to say with their peers,” said Lauren Hand.
Lauren Hand won the speech contest two years in a row. But can she do it for a third time?
Nerves often get in the way of good public speaking, but the Hands say taking a deep breath usually helps.
“I always get nervous, even when I get up to speak just for my English class. But I shake it out before I go on, take a deep breath, and then let it go,” said Lauren on presenting speeches.
“While presenting my speech to the student body my nerves strangely became inexistent. Waiting back stage on the other hand was very nerve racking, but after I began to speak, the words just flowed and I didn’t feel at all nervous or nauseous. Having friends in the audience and backstage was a tremendous factor for that as well. Quite frankly I don’t remember half of it,” said Brian on speaking at the speech contest.
The Hands hold a legacy at York Catholic for placing in the speech finals. How do they write such fantastic speeches?
“I pray that I can think of a good topic and then when I do, I see how far I can possibly take it and then evaluate its potential,” said Brian.
“I never really know where they’re going to come from. I try to think of something that’s relevant to my life and then put my own spin on it. Freshman year that was the challenges of being a ginger, this year it was the challenge of writing a job resume! Usually I work on a few ideas and then pick one to use,” said Lauren.
Brian, a freshman, won third place in the speech contest for his original story about a boy and his love of Goldfish (no not the fish, but the beloved snack cracker).
Here is an excerpt from Brian Hand’s speech, “A Snack that Always Smiles Back:”
It was November 14th 2008, and Little Sherman Hillfink walked into his small kindergarten classroom that day with his head raised ever so slightly higher than usual for that morning, his dear sweet mother had packed him his favorite snack of all time. Can you all guess what that is? That’s right, it was Goldfish. He placed his savory snack in the compartment of his desk along with his favorite book, Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in the Twilight series, oh and he had but only a few pages to go. This truly will be an unparalleled day he thought to himself as he proceeded to place his backpack, lunchbox and ninja turtle hoodie in his assigned cubby. He then returned to his desk, sat down quietly in his small plastic chair and…something was amiss. His head spun, and in dreadful anticipation of what he was about to discover he ever so gingerly creaked open the lid of his desk. Relief was followed by shear despair as he saw a faint orange glow only to realize that it was nothing but a zip-lock bag half full of stale Cheesits. And his book? Oh his book where was his book! Bill Ferguson, Sherman’s table buddy, would swear that upon this unholy surprise that the single word Bella trickled innocently from his bamboozled tongue. Oh what cruel trickery was this! And then he knew. Oh he knew but he wished he didn’t. He raised his eyes to see none other than Leonard Butternut, or as the children of Mrs. Sparkle’s class referred to him, BIG LENNY, smirking back at him and twirling a bag of goldfish violently in his sausage like man-child fingers. And to the horror of our young hero, tucked between the elastic waistband of his Adidas sweatpants and the paunch of BIG LENNY himself was his book…..
Lauren, a junior, is no novice to the YC speech contest. She has been a finalist for several years now. Hand’s speeches just keep getting better and more humorous each year. She finished in first place with her speech about an original and brutally honest resume.
Here is an excerpt from Lauren Hand’s original speech “Please Hire Me:”
Dear Mr. or Mrs. Potential Employer,
I have learned much in all the years I have spent becoming an educated citizen capable of contributing to society. My useful and ever so applicable knowledge includes but is not limited to a complete list of English prepositions, most of my twelve times tables, and the stages of mitosis. However, I have never been taught how to write a resume. So I’m asking you to bear with me as I cast my rod into the depths of my imagination and scrounge around for a sliver of relevance. I’ll start with one thing I do know! You can’t spell “resume” without “me!” So that is where our real world adventure begins.
I believe that honesty is the best policy. That’s why I am going to spout off all the reasons you shouldn’t hire me before I try to redeem myself with the only slightly more numerous reasons that you should.
1. Let’s be serious: can I bring my cats to work? Because Mr. Flufferhoosen cannot be left unattended for more than six minutes at a time or we risk not only his fate but the fate of every other living thing within a five mile radius. I’m not saying that it’s a necessity, but if I were not permitted to bring along my little feline, the soft yet convincing growling coming from the darkest corner of your consciousness may prove to be slightly less than a delusion.
2. I am very trusting. Imagine this: a skier who prefers to wear all black and is down on his luck comes in asking to borrow the money in the register to feed his starving children and puppies. What sort of cold hearted animal could say no to such a noble request? I certainly could not.
3. I’m not saying this happens often but I do have an alternate personality that occasionally makes an appearance and should it happen you should know that she is very Irish and very sassy—(brogue) Don’t you be talking about me that way—(a tempo) They need to know—I’ll beat you til you’re mashed potatoes—You wouldn’t dare! (audible shiver).
4. Are you willing to pay me in Trident Layers Gum? Because actually I’m working on this project right now where I am constructing a life sized sculpture of a Wookie out of nothing but strawberry citrus gum (get it? Chewbacca?)……
Neither of the Hands expected to win the speech contest. They were shocked but also proud that the hard work they put into preparing their speeches paid off in the end.
“I was very surprised when I first learned that I had placed in the speech final, and naturally, very excited as well. When I learned that my sister, Lauren, had also … placed, I was unimaginably happy for her and so grateful that I had her helping me through the weeks leading up to the festival and into the competition,” said Brian.
“I’m surprised to have won even once because the speeches I give are always comedic, but I’m very grateful. I aim to do my best, and if I can make people laugh a little bit and go off feeling good about my performance, I’m happy,” said Lauren.
Watch out for the Hands as they compete head to head in the speech contest next year.
“I’ll definitely try! As long as I can come up with another idea, I plan on doing the speech contest again next year,” said Lauren.
“I will definitely continue to participate in the speech festival next year as a sophomore, and hopefully in my remaining years at York Catholic,” said Brian.