By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Labaco wins area speech contest
Kylee Labaco wins again
Turlock High School’s Nienebra Varani (second from left) placed second and Whitmore Charter High School junior Kylee Labaco (second from right) claimed first place in the Rotary Club speech contest. At left is Tina Gong, Assistant Governor of Rotary Area 12 and a member of Turlock Rotary and at right is Paul Rutishauser, president of the Ceres Rotary Club. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Kylee Labaco, a Whitmore Charter High School junior, was declared the winner of the Area 12 Rotary Speech Contest held Feb. 26 at the Ceres Unified School District board room.

Labaco competed against first place finishers in contests at Turlock and Modesto club levels. The first-place finish came with a $175 prize.

Also competing was Turlock High School senior Nienebra Varani who claimed second place and won a $125 prize for her passionate speech.

Labaco will next compete in the District 5220 level on Saturday, March 16 at the Merced Office of Education. The contest will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at Merced County Office of Education. The winner will receive $1,000 prize and present a speech at the district’s annual conference in June.

Students this year had to craft a speech on the topic of “How Rotary Creates Hope in the World.” Students were asked to tie their knowledge of Rotary at both the local and global levels with their personal experiences and addressing their hopes and dreams for a better world.

Labaco won at the Ceres club contest held in January where her speech and delivery was judged against those of Ceres High School junior Giselle Fontes Ayala (second place), Mariana Campos, a Central Valley High School junior (third place), and honorable mentions Yurianna Garcia and Alexander Vas Dinis.

Labaco, said that “in this day and age, it can be hard to be hopeful about anything.” But she went on to explain that the Rotary organization of 1.4 million members is dedicated to improve the world. 

“They strive to create stability for those less fortunate, help our environment, and clear the way for peace allowing for a glimmer of hope to shine into an otherwise deteriorating planet,” Labaco said in her speech.

She noted Rotarians have assisted in medical care, invested $148 million in water and sanitation projects and $18 million in eco-friendly projects in the past five years.

“All around the world, Rotary has constructed different projects dedicated solely to a healthier planet. Though they aren’t fixing our environmental problems, they certainly are improving our situation. Thanks to Rotary, we are able to live with the reassurance that our world won’t be ending anytime sooner than it could.

She noted that Rotary has a project named “Promoting Peace” by teaching advocates in communities to deal with conflict.

“They are literally sending willing volunteers into these warzones to risk their lives to bring peace.”