The Thurston County Bar Association (TCBA) and the West Olympia Rotary co-sponsor a Law Day Speech Contest each year for Thurston County high school students.
The TCBA board members select a current legal topic and create a factual scenario for the students to research and create a 5-7 minute speech that is first heard by members of the TCBA Board and several Thurston County Superior Court Judges. Four finalists are chosen to advance to the final round that happens around the first of May (May 1st is Law Day) and is given in front of the West Olympia Rotary Club members at their monthly luncheon. The Rotary members then choose the winning speech and award second, third and fourth place prizes. Each of the top four student presenters receive a plaque (provided by the West Olympia Rotary) and a monetary prize (provided by the TCBA).
The topic for 2013 was “Gun Violence in America” with only these guidelines:
“This year’s speech topic will center on the issue of “gun violence in america” and the best legal, social and/or moral response to this issue. As part of your speech, you should discuss the balance between an individual’s right to bear arms versus an individual’s safety from gun violence. Your speech could discuss some of the following issues:
1. What restrictions, if any, should be placed on firearm ownership in america?
2. The latest incidents of gun violence (Sandy Hook, Colorado theater shooting; Gabrielle Giffords…etc.): what effect should these incidents have on this issue (if any)?
3. Should there be restrictions on firearm use such as a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high capacity clips/rounds; or should background checks be required to own a firearm (if so, what factors should disqualify an individual from owning a firearm)?
The contestants can use current law or design their own laws to address these issues. We encourage applicants to express their own thoughts and ideas about this important subject. “
There were a total of 11 students who braved the courtroom to give their speeches. The judges in the preliminary round were very impressed and had a difficult time deciding the top 4 finalists.
The top 4 reworked and practiced their speeches for the final round and delivered four very remarkable and different speeches. All of the students were worthy of winning and the Rotarian judges also had a difficult time choosing their rankings.
Ultimately, the four winners were:
1st place & $600: Joseph McDermott (10th grade-Olympia Regional Learning Center)
2nd place & $500: Nick Harrison (11th grade-Capital High School)
3rd place & $400: Sarah Jodway (12th grade-Olympia High School)
4th place & $300: Sierra Pierson (11th grade-Capital High School)