Three Georgia high school seniors competed with their speeches on the topic of leadership at the Peach Council of the National Management Association before graduating.
Savannah River Site's winner, Isaac Halverson, of Westminster Schools of Augusta, met formidable opponents Olivia Hightower, an Atlanta home-schooler and winner of the Lockheed Martin competition, and Micah Christensen, of South Effingham High School in Guyton and winner of the Gulfstream Aerospace Division.
Hightower focused on leadership's need for a vision in her speech. Christensen approached the topic of leadership with the question of whether leaders are born or made.
Halverson enraptured the audience with a highly personal account. He contrasted the brazen leadership immortalized in movies with quiet leadership that can surmount what appears to be impossible.
Using Holt International as his model, Halverson related how Harry and Bertha Holt, an ordinary couple, were moved by the desperate plight of GI babies of the Korean War in orphanages in 1954. International adoption was impossible at that time. The Holts petitioned Congress to pass a law permitting international adoption of orphans. The Holt Bill was passed, and the couple adopted eight children from Korea. Halverson related that he was given up for adoption in Korea and found a home in Augusta through Holt International. The quiet leadership of the Holts has made a difference in the lives of so many children.
The quality of the speeches was outstanding. Prior to announcing the winners, Toastmaster John Connelly commented on the difficult task the judges had faced and that any one of the students could be a winner and even compete at the national level.
Judging was performed by local members of Toastmasters International -- Lynn Brown, Phil Miller and Scott Ebert -- with experience ranging from eight to 30 years. Members of the National Management Association donated their time to give teens this opportunity to develop their public speaking and communication skills.
Speeches were judged on the body of the speech and wording, originality of the material, inflections used in the voice and impact of the speech on the audience.
Halverson competed and in the Eastern Division Contest in Savannah on June 4, but did not place and therefore will not move on to the national competition, which will be held in St. Louis in September.