On Thursday evening, February 9, Ryan Pruitt won the club level Student Speaker Contest at the Burney Lions Club. Pruitt, a senior at Burney High School, competed against two other Burney High School students, Megan Arsenau and James Chapman.
The theme of this year’s contest is “Is the right to privacy a threat to national security.” Lions Club president Matt Quinlan opened the meeting and Introduced Lion Dr. Bill Cummings who explained the rules and introduced the speakers.
Each student gave a ten minute speech.
Megan Arsenau spoke first presenting the case that the right to privacy was not a threat to national security. Using examples from business, school, and events since 9/11, she argued that the right to privacy coupled with the freedom of conscience and freedom of speech strengthen our nation.
James Chapman also argued that the right to privacy was not a threat to national security. He presented a spirited case that liberty is what makes the United States great and that too much government surveillance is a threat to our basic freedom. He also argued under the Patriot Act, the NSA had gone too far in gathering information on citizen’s private lives and communications.
Ryan Pruitt took the opposite position, making a case that the right to privacy is a threat to national security. He argued that the responsibility of the government to protect the lives of millions of citizens outweighed the right to privacy. His argument was well-framed, using examples from recent terrorist attacks and supportive quotes from utilitarian philosophy.
His delivery and stage presence were also outstanding. Creating imaginary scenarios emphasizing the dire consequences of failing to uncover terrorist plots, he eloquently supported his position.
The speeches were judged by three judges: Willie Rodriguez, and Mr. and Mrs Larry Snelling. The judges evaluated each speaker for content, delivery, and overall effectiveness.
Melissa Madden, activities director at Burney High School, helped to coach the students in preparation for their speeches.
All three participants were awarded certificates and checks. Pruitt won $100 for first place. The other speakers each received $25. Pruitt will now advance to the zone level competition to be held February 24 at the Burney Lions Club.
Lions Clubs throughout California are holding contests during the month of February as part of the 80th Annual Student Speaker Contest. Winners will advance through a series of competitions to reach the District, Area, and Multiple District Four Contest.
This year, the Lions Fourth District Student Speakers Foundation will provide scholarships totaling $103,500.00. Fifteen District winners will each receive a $4,500.00 scholarship. Four Area winners will each receive an additional $6,500.00 scholarship, and the winner of the Multiple District Four Contest will receive an additional $10,000.00 scholarship.