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Christmas wins Rotary 4-Way Test Speech Contest
Rotary speech contestants
Thursday's contestants included (from left) Kory Ramsby, Benjamin Edwards, Ethan Christmas, Tate Hendrix, April Moss and Terrien Edwards. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

RINCON — Ethan Christmas has a gift for talking and he showed it Thursday at New Ebenezer Retreat Center.

Representing South Effingham High School and the STEM Academy, Christmas emerged victorious in a speech contest that featured a field of six student orators from Effingham County. The annual 4-Way Test Speech Contest is a joint venture between the Rotary Club of Effingham County and Effingham Sunrise Rotary. 

The contest for students in grades 9-12 was initiated in 1997 to foster future leaders. Contestants are allowed to speak 5-8 minutes on timely subjects that are tied to the annual theme and Rotary’s 4-Way Test.

The test says:

Of the things we think, say or do:

— Is it the truth?

— Is it fair for all concerned?

— Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

— Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

The 2020 theme is “Rotary Connects the World.”

Christmas focused his remarks on teens who constantly compare themselves to others, lowering their self esteem. 

He explained,. “Einstein once said, 'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid.'" 

Christmas, a junior, went on to say, “Human beings are not two dimensional. We are all greater than the sum of our parts.”

The contest winner and second-place finisher Tate Hendrix, also of South Effingham and the STEM Academy, will represent the local Rotary clubs in the area level competition.

The field was rounded about by April Moss (Effingham County High School) and Kory Ramsby (South Effingham), who tied for third, fifth-place Benjamin Edwards (South Effingham) and sixth-place Terrien Edwards (Effingham County).

Before the contest, Ford said, “You guys and ladies are to be commended for taking on this task and doing a speech in front of people you don’t even have a clue who you are taking in front of,” said Dr. Yancy Ford, assistant superintendent of the Effingham County School district and president of the Rotary Club of Effingham. “It’s a valuable experience that you are gaining and you are doing it to benefit yourself and we appreciate you representing your school in such a positive manner.”