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Four local high school students showed off their presentation skills and strength of character last week as they participated in Lewisville Noon Rotary's annual Four-Way Test Speech Competition. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test is still relevant today and asks the following essential questions of the things we, as Rotarians, 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?

Students participating in the Four-Way Test Speech Competition each had five minutes to share their unique perspectives on what the Four-Way Test means to them and the importance of high ethical values in decision-making. This year's contestants from Lewisville High School included seniors Eleanor Power and Brianna Sibounheuang, junior Joanna Fenner, and sophomore Ayo Ogunkoya.

The contestants were allowed to use notes on 5” index cards during their presentation and were scored based on the content, delivery, and organization of their speech. The first place winner received $200, second place received $175, third place earned $100, and fourth place garnered $75. County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell was the official timekeeper, Melissa DeWitt served as auditor, and Rotarians Steve Cox, Mike Fickling and John Kazor judged the competition.

Kicking off the event, Eleanor Power spoke on the scientific acronym GIGO, which stands for “garbage in, garbage out.” The acronym provides a useful framework when examining a particular issue, she noted, because if you base your assessment on a false premise, you cannot get an accurate conclusion.
“The four way test is a kind of shield against the garbage,” Power said. For example, one can apply the first test, “Is it true?” to a TikTok video and question whether it has been fact-checked. Is the content true, or merely entertaining or sensational? 
“Misinformation can have horrible consequences,” she went on to say. In closing, Power noted we have a responsibility to the truth and to hold ourselves and others accountable to the facts. The Four-Way Test provides a solid foundation for these assessments.
Joanna Fenner gave a talk on whether learning different languages was necessary and applied the Four-Way Test to assess the merits of linguistic studies. Although learning another language is not mandated for everyone, it can open opportunities for improved communication, equal participation between diverse groups, and understanding of cultural differences, she said. Likewise, speaking more than one language can provide opportunities to further one’s career and promote societal unity.
Sibounheuang tackled the reality that she is physically petite and explained how the Four-Way Test helps her see the upside of her small stature. She wove in details about her Vietnamese heritage and how her parents overcame difficult circumstances to realize the American dream and give her a great life. Sibounheuang now aspires to a career in healthcare and has recognized that the current healthcare system is not equitable for those in marginalized communities. As President of the Interact Club at Lewisville High School, she has helped organize initiatives to benefit those in need here in Lewisville. “Service embodies our dedication to community and fairness in the world,” she said.
Lastly, Ayo Ogunkoya addressed the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) on society. “With all things good comes the potential for something bad,” Ogunkoya noted, citing the recent deepfake scandal around singer Taylor Swift.
“Allowing AI to go unchecked is allowing a society in which plagiarism goes unpunished,” he said, before expounding on the the potential for artificial intelligence to have a detrimental impact in our culture and the job market. “Instead of us adapting to AI, we should adapt our society to improve it,” so the technology is used to save lives and provide increased employment opportunities instead of replacing jobs, Ogunkoya said.
First place went to Brianna Sibounheuang, who at a mere five feet was standing tall as she accepted her check for $200 from LNR club president Eyad Salloum. She will be moving on to the regional competition later this spring. Eleanor Power earned second place, and Joanna Fenner and Ayo Ogunkoya won third and fourth place, respectively. The members of the Lewisville Noon Rotary applaud each of these students for their courage in speaking to the group and their tremendous talent, and we look forward to seeing where their presentation skills take them in the future.