Talking is one of those things that people don’t have to think about, a skill learned from an early age, ingrained in the brain, that cannot be forgotten. However, it goes unnoticed by many that speaking is an art form, something easy to learn but difficult to master. It’s rare for teenagers to have such skill, but Timber Creek is notorious for finding the hidden talents among its students.

Coming in at first place at the past Four Way Speech Contest that took place on Feb. 20 is junior Maddie Ott, a unique individual who has a knack for speaking.

“I think I’m just a naturally talkative person,” Ott said. “ I stand out from others because I get to speak about things I care about and that makes me even more passionate and articulate.”

The Four Way Speech Contest is hosted by the Rotary Club, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing business and professional leaders together in an effort to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all professions, and to advocate goodwill and peace globally. Members judge speakers based on content, actual speaking ability and organization of the speech. The speech must answer these four questions:

Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

“I actually didn’t work on [my speech] too much for a while, and I really only started working on it towards the week before, but as soon as I got the speech and [found out] that I had to apply it to the four way test, I thought about problems with instant communication,” Ott explained. “That’s something that I’ve struggled with and I know everyone else has struggled with in the way that [it] specifically affects your relationships and so that’s what I centered my speech around.”

Split into three sections, all of which offer scholarship money, the competition is fierce for you must place first in each section in order to move on. Ott, having placed first, will be moving onto section two in the next couple weeks. As of now, she has earned $100 dollars of scholarship money but she hopes to make it all the way to section three where the top prize is $1000.

Being in theater and debate has helped Ott get to this point. Theater has helped her learn how to play off her audience, making decisions on the spot of what to say to get the best reaction from listeners. Debate on the other hand has refined her speaking and speech writing skills. Though her two passions have helped her on the path to success, she has also gained skills from the contest.

“I definitely think it’s going to help with debate, it’s one of those things, like writing a speech, that will have to appeal to your audience,” Ott said. “It helped me with being able to speak more clearly and eloquently about things.”

With dreams of attending NYU, Ott plans to major in either theater or political science. New York City, famously known as ‘the city that never sleeps’, is the ideal place for a talented individual such as Ott. The scholarship money she earns will go towards her college fund for NYU.

“The city is such a good place for other opportunities outside the college and what the college can offer you,” Ott commented.

Words play a crucial role in a well functioning society as they dictate rules, leadership, and relationships. Most people take speaking for granted and don’t take the time to perfect the forgotten art. However, when the time is taken, they find themselves equipped with a secret, powerful weapon capable of shaping lives, building civilizations and creating art.

“Regardless of who you’re speaking to, one person or a large crowd,” said Ott. “It’s great to know how to do so effectively and beautifully.”