In an annual event that pits the best against the best, Wetumpka Rotary Club 2020 Speech Contest held the first two rounds of competition Feb. 4 and Tuesday.

Wetumpka High School senior Isaac Stubbs won Tuesday’s round and delivered a speech on the positive impact of virtual education.

Stubbs gave evidence that answered why online learning is effective, different and better than alternative forms of education.

“Kids are learning faster, learning more concepts and have more time to understand their own skills and aspirations,” he said. “All of these benefits stem from the accessibility and adaptability of online learning.”

Rotary president Cathy Thornton said the 2020 Wetumpka High competition was one of the closest since the competition began.

Alex Rouse and Tanner Caton both earned $250 each for their efforts.

Rouse discussed the positives of caffeine and dangers when ingesting too much of the substance. Caton informed the audience of teen suicide and measures society can take to reduce risks of suicide.

Last Tuesday, the Rotary Club hosted Edgewood seniors Gracie Johnson, Clay Williams and Katie Roberts. 

Roberts gave the winning speech on the dangers of electronic cigarettes, which she said are popular in Wetumpka because of the number of stores selling these products.

“We can see this popularity in our small town of Wetumpka if we just take a look,” Roberts said. “There are three vape shops within 5 miles.”

Her speech concluded electronic cigarettes are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes.

“The many harmful chemicals they contain, the widespread effect among teenagers and lack of evidence to determine the longterm effects of e-cigarettes all prove that they are more harmful that traditional cigarettes,” Roberts said.

Johnson and Williams were also awarded $250 for their participation in the competition.

Long-time Wetumpka Rotary Club member Bob Reneau said the contest, in its present form, began in 2007 and it is intended to help develop public speaking skills among students.

“We felt it would help high school students develop effective speech making skills,” Reneau said.

Johnson delivered a speech titled “Is Texting Effecting Vocabulary Development and Writing Skills?” Williams followed with “What Would Happen if the Internet Crashed?” 

With their respective wins, Stubbs and Roberts will compete against each other Feb. 25 for the 2020 title.

Thornton said the overall winner of the final event will walk away with an award of $1,000 while the runner up will receive $500.

They will speak on the same topic as chosen by members of the Rotary Club.