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Charter School students take on statewide speech finals

By Naji Tobias

ORLANDO — For much of the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School’s first semester, a group of eighth-grade students prepared for a statewide speech competition.

On Jan. 13, the group faced off against nine teams in the finals for the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution state speech competition.

The competition was held at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando and was sponsored by the Florida Law Related Education Association Inc. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead (1994-2009) was the speech competition’s keynote speaker.

To prepare for the competition, 12 students from Brighton’s Charter School completed a multi-unit Constitutional studies program that taught them the intricacies of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

According to PECS Language Arts and Speech teacher Crystal Drake, the competition tested the students’ communication skills through hearing exercises and speech presentations on a variety of contemporary issues on the U.S. Constitution.

The students were grouped into teams of four and placed in a simulated Congressional hearing at UCF. They presented to three judges who were experts in law and media.

The competition allowed the Charter School students to gain a better understanding of the U.S. government.

The winning team consisted of Rumor Juarez, Boyd Brown, Elijah Finney and Kaylen Buster. The other eight students who represented the Brighton Charter School included Thomas Bearden, Kailin Brown, Michael Garcia, Zachary Hudson, Jaron Johns, Zeke Matthews, Jayce Smith and Melany Williams.

PECS Social Studies teacher Quenten Pritchard and fellow teacher Drake prepared the 12 students for the competition.

“I have taken several high school student groups to this competition in the past, and I was very impressed with our middle school students’ abilities to articulate their ideas with the adult judges,” Drake said. “I want to thank Mr. Pritchard for helping me with this project by presenting the material in his social studies classroom and helping the students with their answers.”

Seminole Education Director Emma Johns, PECS Principal Brian Greseth and PECS staff member Rita McCabe also supported the competitors, who were recognized with special certificates at the Brighton Charter School’s second quarter awards ceremony on Jan. 23.

“The speech students performed exceptionally well there,” Principal Greseth said. “I’m very proud of all of them for what they accomplished.”

The eighth graders are on track to earn a high school credit in Speech I.

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