Salem High School student Lydia Galbreath has won a Rotary District Speech Contest and $700.
Galbreath competed in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) during District 7570’s Virtual Annual Conference in March.
She was chosen from 12 students who made YouTube recordings submitted to the district committee.
Galbreath’s talk was selected for her animated six-minute persuasive talk directed toward her peers, to promote ethical standards in daily life as they relate to the Rotary Four Way Test of things members think, say and do.
Her talk was titled “Talk Saves Lives.” She noted The New York Times says “Gossip makes up 80 percent of our conversation” How sad is it that the easiest way to build yourself up is to tear others down. “Secondly we must look outwardly. Will our actions build goodwill and better friendship?”
She gave an example of her own brother who made poor choices and was picked up by police for marijuana, when she was a fifth grader. She added that people she knew and loved ignored their morals and be crushed by the weight of their poor choices.
“Let’s choose kindness over gossip. Stop using harmful messages to numb the pain…It’s not too late to turn your life around.”
As Salem Rotarian Tommy Barber said, “Her stirring and powerful speech addresses the essence of what high school students face every day: peer pressure and the agonizing need to be ‘cool’ and accepted in the eyes of their peers.”
Barber went on to say, “I wish that every 8-12 grade student sitting in health classes could experience Lydia’s thought-provoking speech and benefit from her heartfelt advice.” Barber is a former president of the Salem Rotary Club, and a retired school psychologist and mental health provider.
The annual competition is open to high school juniors and seniors in the 7570 district that stretches from Front Royal to Eastern Tennessee.
She said she plans on using the $700 check toward her college savings account. Galbreath has a 4.4 GPA, and is a state forensic competitor. She volunteers weekly with the Young Life organization “Wildlife” that helps develop middle school leaders.
Galbreath is secretary of the SHS National Honor Society and said she enjoys cooking.
Her talk can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNK6CjXPN6w.