Allison Boyer, 16, a junior honor roll student at Yosemite High School won the Rotary Area Speaking Contest Feb. 27 and will now advance to the District contest on March 30 in Ceres. This year's speech for all contestants is "Peace Through Service."
Second place went to Ealish Ellis of Minarets High School and Laura Shenk of Mariposa County High School placed third. Boyer won the club (Sierra Sunrise Rotary) contest in late January. In that contest, second place went to Hunter Murphy and Kaitlyn Sikora placed third. Both Murphy and Sikora are juniors at Yosemite High.
Donald Eaves, assistant vice president of Yosemite Bank, served as the area contest chairman.
Boyer's award winning speech
When announcing the theme of this year's speech contest, International Rotary President Mr. Tanaka said 'In Rotary, our business is not profit, our business is peace. Through our service, we learn empathy for others. We come closer to people who seem very different from us. And we begin to understand how alike we really are.
Mr. Tanaka brought forth a question that got me thinking. How do we define "peace?" The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as 'a state of tranquility or quiet.' To me, peace is what my uncle fights for in the Army. Peace is everyone getting along.
In Rotary, the 4-way test brings forth four questions that every single person should ponder before thinking, saying, or doing anything.
The first question is 'Is it the truth?' How can we achieve peace if we are not speaking the truth? How can we form good friendships if they are not based on the truth? Truth is the backbone for every relationship we will ever form.
The second question is 'Is it fair to all concerned?' People's rights are being fought for all over the world. I will quote Thomas Jefferson when I say 'All men are created equal.' The real question is how far are we willing to go in making sure that everyone is treated equally? Without equality, there can be no peace. How far are we willing to go to find true peace?
The third question from the four-way test is "will it build goodwill and better friendships?' Social media has made so many aspects of our life easier, better and more convenient. It's a great way for people to catch up with old friends. But one negative thing about social media: It is now easier to say unkind things. When a person is behind a computer screen, it is easier to be rude. Before you say something, think about how it's going to make you feel after it is all said and done.
Does it pass the four-way test? Think about what social media could do if we used it to promote peace instead of negativity.
The final question is 'will it be beneficial to all concerned?' My uncle was away from his fiancé for an entire year while he was in Afghanistan. In the army, or any branch of the military, their job is to create peace. There is a reason that they call it 'Serving in the military.' Our troops are out there serving our country, promoting peace through their service.
In Mr. Tanaka's quote, he also spoke about coming closer to people who seem very different from us. At Interact events, we often work together with students whom we have not met before. I met one of my best friends at Relay for Life last year. We bonded over soup at four in the morning, creating a great friendship while helping fight cancer.
In my International Baccalaureate Biology class, we are learning about genetics, and my teacher pointed out that we are all 99% the same. It's amazing how much energy people spend focusing on our differences, when in reality, we are talking about 1%. Putting that into perspective, think about how you would feel if you scored 99% on a test. You would feel great, right? You wouldn't give that one percent a second thought.
That's the way we should be with each other. We should not struggle to find the differences we have and then focus on that one percent. If we realize how alike we all are, we are one step closer to finding peace.
I have tried to promote peace through service in several ways. I am currently my Interact Club's vice president. I attend as many events as I possibly can. Recently, I helped save our local movie theater. During Christmas break, I spent time volunteering to make sure that the Met would meet its goal. I am always positive on social media and I stand up for my friends if someone is being negative towards them. I would like to challenge each and every one of you to think about what you are doing to bring peace closer through service."