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Rockets 'Create Hope in the World' through Rotary Speech competition

Rockets 'Create Hope in the World' through Rotary Speech competition

Junior Katie Claes competed in the Cincinnati finals of the Rotary Club speech contest on February 29. This year’s theme, “Create Hope in the World,” inspired Katie to speak out about her experience of Asian-American discrimination during the pandemic and beyond.

She weaved in the historic roots of inequality in our country and urged the audience to consider how they can make a change in their own lives. “With every passing year we are told we are improving the human race, yet we lie in exactly the same place if we do not acknowledge our past shortcomings and actively attempt to correct them,” Katie said.

Last year’s winner, McNicholas junior Lynn Sandmann, was invited to speak while the judges calculated the scores. Lynn said, “This contest was a way for me to develop confidence in myself, to present a topic that I had once feared and turn it into something that I have now conquered. I have applied this key take away to my life: ‘I am a human with a voice and my voice is meant to be heard.’”

Although Katie didn’t win the city-wide competition, she did find her voice and a platform to share her story. "My speech was originally difficult for me to write because of how personal and sensitive the subject was for me, but as soon as I started writing, I felt as if I couldn't stop," Katie said.

Katie performed her speech before an audience of 150 people and was cheered on by her parents, Principal Bob Noll, English Department Chair Angie Noble, McNicholas runner-up Lauren Beiser, and Lynn Sandmann. 

Mr. Noll said, “I was so impressed with Katie, Lynn, and all of the students who gave speeches at the competition. It filled me with a sense of hope for our future, knowing that we have young people with such strength, compassion, and conviction. And Lynn is right—all students have a voice worth being heard.”