Lions student speaker contest

From left to right, District Governor Steven Morgan, California City Mayor Jennifer Wood, Sandra Flores, Deanna Alvarado, Zara Dhar and Desert Zone B Chair Andrea Jeffs.

The Lions Clubs of California are sponsoring the 81st Annual Student Speaker Contest. Besides offering an opportunity for self-expression and public speaking, the key purpose of the statewide contest is to promote critical thinking regarding problems we face in the United States. Speakers this year are being asked to answer the question, “Integrity and civility play what role in today’s society?”

On March 10, students from schools in Boron, California City, Ridgecrest and Tehachapi competed in the Desert Zone B Contest held at Robert P. Ulrich Elementary School in California City. This year’s contest moderator was Desert Zone B Chairperson Andrea Jeffs. Also present was District 4-L1 Governor and Student Speaker Trustee Steven Morgan.

Lions and guests listened intently as their sponsored club winner gave a speech, hoping to win the Desert Zone B level competition. Deanna Alvarado has won this year’s Desert Zone B Contest, receiving $150 on a quest to win the $21,000 scholarship prize. Alvarado, a junior at California City High School, made her first presentation to the Tehachapi Lions Club on Feb. 15.

The competition begins at the local level and contestants progress through the ranks until there is but one winner remaining. Contest judges Kelly Bustamante, Dennis Mourning and Patty Callier graded each speaker on their 10-minute presentation addressing the contest topic. Finalists competing against Alvarado were Sandra Flores of Boron High School and Zara Dhar of Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest. Alvarado will now move to the Desert Region Contest on March 17 in Ridgecrest, where she will compete against the winner from Desert Zone A (Mojave, Lancaster, Palmdale, Acton).

The contest is administered and funded by the Lions Fourth District Student Speakers Foundation Inc., a California nonprofit corporation. This year, the foundation will provide scholarships totaling $103,500. From this amount, each of the 15 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. The final winner will receive a total scholarship of $21,000.

Each district winner will also have competed in contests at the Club, Zone and Region Levels, winning cash awards at each level. California is divided into 15 Lions Club districts.

Lions Club International is the world’s largest volunteer service organization with more than 1.4 million members in more than 46,000 clubs providing humanitarian service to more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the globe. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired, championed youth initiatives and strengthened communities through hands on service and humanitarian projects. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit lionsclubs.org.

Suzanne Williams is the Lions District 4-L1 Cabinet Secretary.