Harsh Sikka, a senior at Oakwood High School in Morgan Hill, defeated nine other competitors Jan. 9, to win the annual Morgan Hill Rotary Youth Speech Contest.
Oakwood High School, a small school of less than 400 students, made a big showing in the contest by snagging all the awards. Junior Divya Gopisetty came in second place and freshman Nina Singh rounded out the honors in third.
Also competing were Live Oak High School students Uriel Alvarez, Angelica Rodriguez, James Gabbard and Joshua Toch, all juniors. Central High School senior Lilly Quezada and Oakwood sophomore Nikhil Batra completed the field of competitors.
Students had to prepare a five-minute speech that addressed the International Rotary Motto, “peace through service.” Sikka's speech traced the “humble beginnings” of the Rotary in 1925 to its current international campaigns.
In addition to winning $100 dollars, Sikka will have the opportunity to advance to the regional semi-finals on Jan. 24, in Almaden.
A member of the speech and debate team at his school, Sikka has been competing in the Morgan Hill speech contest for four years, last year he received second place. A member of the speech and debate team at his school, Sikka has been competing in the Morgan Hill speech contest for four years and received second place last year.
When he enrolled at Oakwood, Sikka was put in contact with the Rotary's high school partnership, Interact.
“I was immediately opened to a whole new world of public speaking,” he said.
Laura Lundy, the current President the Morgan Hill Rotary, hopes that this type of involvement will help shape local students.
“They are important to our community, because as corny as it sounds, they are our future,” she smiled.
Her sentiments were echoed in Sikka's speech as he gave his impassioned closing.
“I know if we can work at it, we can change the world together,” he said.