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Three speech festival winners share talent and passion
student spotlight girls
Camille Herrera, Harmony Tinley and Morgan Oliveira all attend Elim Elementary School in Hilmar and placed in their grade at the Merced County Speech Festival.

Being able to articulate one's thoughts in a clear and concise manner is a highly sought after skill in the professional sphere, and three Hilmar elementary school girls are far ahead of the curve.

Fifth grader Camille Herrera and fourth graders Morgan Oliveira and Harmony Tinley all competed and placed in the Merced County Speech Festival, a testament to their mature capabilities at such a young age. Both Camille and Morgan took a playful but educational approach with their speeches. Morgan took third place in the fourth grade competition for her speech on the importance of flossing by advising the audience to "only floss the ones you want to keep.” Camille gave onlookers a wakeup call on the importance of not being a couch potato which awarded her first place in the fifth grade category.

"I competed last year and it was really fun, so I decided to do it again. I really love to write and I was able to do that and also give my speech out loud," said Camille.

Harmony followed in the footsteps of her three older sisters by making it to the county level of the competition and even placed first among the fourth graders for her speech on Jackie Robinson. 

"I chose to speak on Jackie Robinson because he was an interesting person who had a hard life but he was a hero and I wanted to speak about something that would inspire people," said Harmony. 

The three girls were judged by three judges at the school level before moving on to the county competition and today the girls will be awarded trophies at an awards ceremony at the Merced County Office of Education, where first place winners will deliver their speeches again.

The girls had such a spirit of enthusiasm for the competition that nerves were not an issue and they were delighted that the competition gave them the opportunity to express themselves.

“I really like to write because it inspires me. When you write you can put anything on paper and really visualize what you want to say but using words,” said Morgan.

 While all three girls were drawn to the competition out of their love for reading and writing, their interests extend beyond the humanities as they look forward to their next challenge: the annual science fair. Harmony has plans to create a project centered on circuits, electricity and magnets, while Morgan plans to expand upon her flossing speech and Camille is considering educating onlookers about the different parts of a cow. As the three girls grow in the years to come, there is no doubt that they will use their strong command of reading and writing and varied interests to lead their peers and make a difference.