This year 15 students from local secondary schools met at Amédée-Beaudoin Community Centre in Lennoxville to participate in the 26th annual Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) public speaking competition, held Wednesday afternoon. The participating schools included Stanstead College (SC), Bishop’s College School (BCS), Richmond Regional (RRHS), Massey-Vanier (MVHS) and Alexander Galt Regional High School (AGRHS). This year’s winners in the junior division (Sec. 1, 2 and 3) were Aidan Feddema (BCS) in first place with his speech “Is Social Media Worth It?” David Kolten Crack (RRHS) in second place with his speech “Why We Should Eat Whole dairy Products”, and honourable mention went to MVHS student Solomon Jung for his speech “The Future of Learning.” In the senior category (Sec.4 and 5), top honours went to Cala Tesolin (BCS) for her speech, “Beauty is Not Beautiful”. Second place went to Alexis Bernier (SC) with his speech “What is Success?” Honourable mention went to Kelly Frendo (BCS) for her speech “History Should be in Our Future.” The winners in each category were awarded a $100 donation for their school’s library. In line with the CFUW’s mandate promoting literacy and education, the event was an illuminating experience for audience members as well as the young orators. The subjects chosen by the students serve as a barometer for the concerns of local teens today, and in many cases, are directly in line with issues debated in national, and even international political arenas. Among the subjects were two speeches about social, or as one student put it, ‘Unsocial’ media. “Being famous on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly,” explained one student. “Why do I feel compelled to send out (Snapchat) streaks every day,” another said, explaining that digital platforms use tactics similar to casinos and lotteries to develop addictions. “We can be hyper-connected and extremely lonely at the same time,” he said, adding “It has us by a string, and it’s up to us to cut it.” On student made a compelling argument for whole dairy products. “Would you seriously want to put edible plastic on your toast?” he asked, referring to the flavour and health benefits of butter compared to margarine. Consuming whole dairy, according to the young speaker, is not only healthier, but helps support Canadian jobs, one eighth of which are in agriculture. “If you put butter and margarine on a table, not even the flies will go to the margarine,” he said. One of the speeches laid out the pros and cons related to the legalization of marijuana. The points raised dealt not only with the economic aspects, but also the societal impacts and the potential for medical research. “Stereotypes stink,” was the opening of one student’s speech. “ It’s a bad habit that we help keep alive,” she went on, challenging the audience to suspend judgment and get to know people rather than rely on a pre-conceived notion of what a person is like. See full story in the Friday, May 4th edition of The Record.