Westside Student To Compete In Boys and Girls Club State Speech Competition


Image courtesy of Westside Community Schools's Twitter

Westside High School junior Erica Smith will be competing in the Boys and Girls Club of the midlands state speech competition.

The Westside Hawkins Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands, next to Westbrook Elementary School, is known for its positive environment which allows all types of students to embrace their inner selves from the ages of five to eighteen. On Wednesday, Nov. 20, The Boys and Girls Club held their annual speech contest. Junior Erica Smith represented Westside at this contest and won the “Youth of the Year” award, and will be competing at the state competition. 

“I gave a speech and so did six other candidates from other different schools and different Boys and Girls Clubs around Omaha,” Smith said. “We were competing against each other to see who goes to state.” 

Smith said that the topics of the speeches vary but the majority of the time, they are about personal struggles and how the speaker has grown to overcome them.

“[I] overcame a bunch throughout Boys and Girls Club,” Smith said. “Six years ago, when I was new to Westside, it would be hard for me to make new friends. My dad noticed and told me to sign up [for the club], so I did.” 

Following her speech, Smith had an interview with several judges.  

“After dinner, [we give our] speeches,” Smith said. “Then, we move on to do seven individual interviews with each judge that last about 20 minutes.” 

Smith said that the interviews are nerve-wracking, especially since the judges critique their speeches. 

“You’re in a room [with them], and it’s really scary,” Smith said. “After we’re done with all of that then they give out awards. Everyone got ‘Youth of the Year’ since we’re all from different schools, but only one out of seven contestants can move onto state.” 

Smith said that she got very few critiques on her performance but she hopes to use these following months to improve in those areas before she participates in the state competition.

“I got very little critiques,” Smith said. “[I just need to have] more confidence and have [more] eye contact. So I hope to really take these upcoming months, until May 3, to improve in those two areas.” 

Smith said that the Hawkins Boys and Girls Club has positively impacted her throughout her years there.

“In general, it’s just [a place] where anyone from ages five to eighteen can go to for guidance,” Smith said. “It’s helped me a ton, so it can help anyone else out there.”