Showing posts with label Molly Plati. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Molly Plati. Show all posts

Friday, May 24, 2024

Windham student's speech wins state Speak Out competition

By Ed Pierce

A Windham High School junior’s moving speech about firearm violence won the state Speak Out competition during the recent Maine Lions Convention in Bethel.

Windham High School junior Molly Plati, center, is joined
by Camille Swander of the Windham Lions Club, left, and
WHS teacher Karyl Hazard after Plati won the state Speak
Out competition during the Maine Lions Convention in
Bethel. Plaati's speech about gun violence won a $500
cash prize. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
Molly Plati, 17, first captured the local Speak Out title sponsored by both the Windham and Raymond Lions Clubs, then won the regional Speakout level in Gorham to qualify for the state championship. In Speak Out, students choose a topic of local, state, national or international interest and research it to develop a four- to six-minute speech. The student speeches are judged for voice, enunciation, pace, appearance, construction, interest and replies to questions posed about their topic.

“My speech was about how stronger red flag laws could reduce firearm-related violence in the United States. I explored different regulations the government has explored and their effectiveness in lowering mass casualties,” Plati said. “Furthermore, I researched the different mass casualties that have happened across the United States, specifically in the last 10 years. I studied the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Las Vegas, Nevada shooting, and finally, the Lewiston, Maine shooting on Oct. 25, 2023. I explored how mass casualties tragically affect the nation and how a reduction of these mass attacks can lead to a better country overall.”

During her speech, she said all of this cannot happen without public support for government research on assault weapons, as well as an increase in Red Flag laws.

“I presented this topic because of our research paper in my AP English class. The assignment was to choose a critical issue that we felt passionate about,” Plati said. “I chose this topic because gun violence is something that can affect every citizen in the United States. It has created unrest in students across the country, with an increase in school shootings each year. School is where we should feel safe, a place that is a second home, as some students spend more time in this building than at their own homes. With an increase in shootings done by assault weapons, student safety is jeopardized. All students deserve to feel safe at school, and I think increasing regulations and knowledge about gun control policies is how we can feel safe again.”

She said the most challenging part of creating this speech was delivering a persuasive speech about a sensitive and controversial topic.

“When preparing it, I did not know what kind of audience I was walking into and their various beliefs,” Plati said. “I tried to base my opinions on facts backed up by research, but delivering a speech on a controversial topic took a lot of work, as I could not predict how the audience would react. I was introduced to this project because we worked on a circle issue research paper in my AP English class. We worked on this project from late December to mid-February, resulting in participation in the Lions Club Level process. My teacher, Karyl Hazard had assigned weekly checks for our research progress. The method of researching, taking notes, annotating, and synthesizing into a final essay took around two months to complete.”

According to Plati, Hazard was very generous in mentoring me through this experience.

“She would not hesitate to allow me to practice in her room before, after, or during the school day,” Plati said. “She helped me refine my speech for every competition level and practice my public speaking skills standing on a podium rather than a stage. I practiced two to three times a week with Ms. Hazard and independently.”

Hazard says that Plati has clear strengths in English Language Arts as a reader, writer, and speaker.

“She has proven to be a conscientious, motivated, and dedicated student here at WHS,” Hazard said. “She is genuinely interested in learning, she is a doer, and she is a respected leader. These are all fabulous strengths that have and will continue to serve her well in life. The perfect complement to her academic, leadership, and performance strengths are her kindness and compassion for those around her.”

Gun control can be an emotional and heated topic to address publicly, especially for a teenager, but Hazard said researching this topic was important to Plati and her passion for it showed in the content and delivery of her speech.

“Molly’s love for and training in musical theater serves her well in public speaking,” Hazard said. “She applied her knowledge of rhetorical strategies from our class and her talent in performance to deliver a passionate and persuasive speech about the need for expanded gun control laws. Molly is quick-thinking and articulate, but she is also quite humble. Not only did she deliver her speech with passion and poise, but she also navigated the questions from the judging panel and engaged with members of the audience with maturity and ease.”

Camille Swander of the Windham Lions Club said everyone who has heard Plati’s speech has been impressed.

“We are extremely proud and impressed with Molly’s presentations at all levels of the contest. She demonstrated confidence, poise and was extremely knowledgeable about her topic,” Swander said. “She was approached by many in attendance at the state level, thanking her for her insight, her manner of delivery and her ability to really connect with her audience. We also want to thank all the students that participated at the local level of the competition. The topics were quite varied, and all students were wonderfully prepared to share their knowledge. Windham High School and community definitely should be proud as are we of these talented students we were lucky enough to meet and listen to their speeches through this program.”

Plati is the daughter of Josh and Heather Plati of Windham, and she received a $500 cash prize for winning the state Speak Out competition. She is a performing artist and actress and is also involved with the Windham High School Drama Club and One Act Play. She is an officer for the Windham Chamber Singers and a recreational dancer, taking classes at Atlantic Dance Arts in Gorham.

After completing high school, she plans to attend a four-year university to study communications, specializing in advertising and media studies and minoring in musical theater and public relations. <