We don’t hear enough from young people. Or, we aren’t listening enough to them. There’s room for improvement in either case, and judging by the works highlighted in the Hicks Prize Speaking and Writing contest there’s a lot of value in hearing from and listening to them.
The contest is named for Ratcliffe Hicks, a state lawmaker and attorney, who started a fund to support English and public speaking at the high school level in 1892. Prizes were awarded at Meriden’s Platt High School recently. Awards at Maloney High School were handed out late last month.
Taking top Maloney essay honors was senior MacKenzie McCormack, who wove a story about her love for sewing with her own story about yearning to know more about her roots. She was adopted from an orphanage in Russia at a young age.
“When I’m sewing, closing up the holes in the fabric lends a feeling of completion and confidence,” she wrote. “Similarly, my adoption and upbringing generate good feelings. My family raised me in a loving home.”
Senior Aracelis Santos Torres took the top speaking prize at Platt, for a story involving her asthma diagnosis and how it led her to view environmental inequities among people of color in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
“Today, parents still have to worry about whether their kids can go out into the polluted public,” she wrote. “We may have come a long way from slavery but it’s not over, we may have come a long way from segregation, but it’s not over. We may have come a long way from Martin Luther King Jr. but there is still much to be done.”
Robert Kosienski Jr., president of the Meriden Board of Education, was one of the judges for the Platt speaking contest. “Every single one of these speeches were full of love and passion and humor and seriousness,” he said.
In other words, good foundations for discussion. Keeping the speaking and writing conversation going is one of the great traditions in Meriden.