The Judge

Last night I served as one of three judges at Arlington High School’s Fourth Annual Speech competition. My credentials? Well, I’m not an expert at public speaking and I certainly didn’t have as much experience as my fellow judges, but I’ve given my fair share of talks and presentations. I did happen to mention in my introduction that we have two rabbits and pictures are available.

It was a really fun evening. The students were very well prepared and spoke very well for the most part. They projected their voices and tried very hard to present the emotion and feeling that their texts required. For the most part, many of the students presented a work published by someone else. They were not permitted to use cards, though some needed a prompt in the course of the speech. You can tell that their teacher has been doing an excellent job.

At the conclusion of the evening, myself and the other judges found it easy to pick the second place and the winner, but the third place was hard to fill. We had several good speeches, but based on our score sheets one guy did seem to rise above the rest. The winner did an incredible job with her speech. She had complete control over her guestures and supplied voices for the different characters as if she’d been producing books on tape for the past few years.

Later that evening, at the reception following the awards, I met an English teacher at the high school who wanted to talk to me about my background in literature and Biblical Literature. She is teaching a class next fall on religious literature and was hoping to pick my brain sometime in the future. It’s a relief to finally have a use for both of my degrees at once!

She shared that the students simply have no clue about the stories in the world religions that explain all of the mysteries that science cannot answer. This has been a concern for her, though she did not share with me if she had any faith she followed.

My first response was gratitude. I am so glad that someone recognizes the void in so many of our children. Secondly, she wants to give them a few pieces of the puzzle to help them figure it out for themselves. While I don’t believe that all paths lead to God, I think she is providing the students with a valuable first step: pointing them to something other, the divine, the spiritual, and telling them that there’s more out there. She’s giving them something to start with, and that is a wonderful gift.

Some students will not care, but…

Perhaps some of the kids will begin knocking on the door. Perhaps God will answer in unexpected ways.