FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue High School freshman River Lisius is becoming renowned for her public speaking ability, and her passion for feminism.

She won first place at the annual Farmington Lions Club Speak Out contest held at Mt. Blue High School on March 25, and followed that up with a victory in the regional Speak Out last Wednesday at the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan. Lisius will go on to compete at the state level later this spring.

Her convincing winning speech was about the rape culture in our society and some possible solutions to remedy it. She reviewed everyday examples that encourage disrespect for females, from the pervasive use of sexy models to sell almost everything, to the easy acceptance of the popular movie and book, Fifty Shades of Gray.

“She is a passionate feminist who believes modeling kindness and integrity will go far to solve the problems we see today,” according to Ron Cullenberg, the Speak Out chairman for the Farmington Lions Club. “The thing that she was talking about is how incredibly popular Fifty Shades of Gray has been, yet it’s the most misogynist film. She brought home that too much of that in our society is going on.”

Second place at the Farmington contest was awarded to Alan Sherrod, a Mt. Blue junior. Alan spoke about the need of education reform based on his observations in schools so far. The idea he came up with for a class project individualizing education is very similar to reforms already happening today.

The third place winner was Zack Jones, a Mt. Blue senior. Zack spoke about the importance of music education in general and in his own experiences as a singer and pianist.

The students are coached by Mt. Blue teacher Debby Muise.

Lions Clubs across the state sponsor annual speaking contests at various high schools to provide an opportunity for the students to have a public forum to express their thinking about important issues facing them and their community, to organize their thoughts and ideas into prepared speeches, and to defend their ideas to questions from the Lions judges. The speeches are limited to five minutes. Speeches longer than six minutes and shorter than four minutes are penalized. The judges score the students on delivery, material in the speech, and response to questions.

Each winner received a Lions Certificate of Appreciation and a monetary award. Cullenberg, said that the speeches were impressive and the student contestants had mastered a level of exceptional maturity that surprised many of the Lions in attendance.

“What they get out of it is these kids, if they’re going to get the most out of life, they’re going to have to learn to speak clearly and effectively in front of people.”

The judges for the Farmington event were Erick Apland, Jeremy McFarlane, Steve Gray, and Jeffrey Wright. The questioners were Colon Durrell and Tom Hagerstrom. The time keeper was Adrian Harris.

As the program ended each of the Lions stood and shared his public speaking experience and how public speaking translated into a very critical part of their professional careers as bankers, managers, military generals, auctioneers, builders, and attorneys.

The Farmington Lions Club is part of a worldwide service organization whose primary orientation is sight conservation, including providing eyeglasses to those in need. Locally, the Farmington Lions Club has a variety of fund raising activities, prominent of which is the Thrift Store on Broadway in Farmington.

Anyone interested in joining the Farmington Lions Club may contact any Lions member, or e-mail club secretary Jeff Wright at [email protected], or Ron Cullenberg at 778-6644, e-mail [email protected]


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