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HS Speech Contest offers surprising solutions

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-09-10

In 1998, approximately 33,000 Japanese committed suicide, and included in that grim statistic were 300 youngsters. So, confronted by such daunting statistics, is there a way to prevent such tragedies from happening?

Perhaps the answer is at hand if we listen to those who live with these statistics everyday and in their own way try to analyze where the problems lie and try to formulate their own responses, their own conclusions as to why.

“The environment is polluted by humans and is counterattacking. I do not think these problems will be settled in a short time. Now each of us has to look at our living conditions again and keep them in mind. We'd better think not only of the present situation but also the future situation."

"There aren't any scales to measure human beings. Even if we have different skin colors, and even if rich, or poor or handicapped. We are entitled to be happy."

Are these the replies of a panel of experts? No, they are the insights of high school students from Kyuyo High School in Okinawa City who see their lives as taking on much deeper meaning, and who participated in the 11th English Speech Contest at the school gym last Tuesday morning.

Of nine student speakers, from first graders to third graders, they presented their opinions and points of view on various subjects which captured their thoughts about life in Japan in the 1990s.

Since its foundation in 1988, the Kyuyo High has held an annual English Speech Contest as part of the school's English education.

To help facilitate the contestants' listening and speaking skills - and to ensure the overall knowledge of the subject they're discussing - impromptu questions were developed by their native English-speaking teacher.

But the questions were never easy. “It took me a month to prepare for the contest,” Kyoko Ageda, who made the speech entitled "The Magic Hands", said.

The Best Listener Contest was also held during the contest and awards were given to those who answered the questions correctly. First prize in the speech contest went to the “Joy of Living” by Masami Oshiro; with second prize to Chie Oguma’s “Life is Beautiful.” Third prize was awarded to Yuriko Kyan for her speech entitled “It's up to You”.

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