The winner of a regional speech and research contest for high school students with disabilities will compete against their counterparts from all around the state. This year, the contest has a new name.
The High School High Tech speech contest this year was named after a longtime employee of Disney who had a passion for helping people with disabilities find work. It’s only fitting that the third annual contest bears Jeanie Amendola’s name – and even more fitting that the first-place prize is a trip to Disney World in Orlando.
Abigail Thomas is a high school student from Gilchrist County whose speech was about her career goal of becoming a registered nurse.
“One of the main reasons I want to go into the healthcare field is because I want to be a positive influence on someone’s life like many healthcare workers have been in mine,” Thomas said.
Seven contestants competed in the regional contest, and about 30 students are vying for the statewide title.
Leon County’s Joshua Godfrey told the crowd he wants to work in technology as a web app developer.
“High School High Tech provided me with the help and encouragement to follow my dreams,” Godfrey said.
Susanne Homant, president of Able Trust, says public speaking and the research that’s involved teaches skills that translate to the workplace.
“It definitely does things for their confidence. They feel better about what they have to say,” Homant said. “They’ve learned from this not to speak just from their own opinions, but they have to do a little research so they have to back up what their thinking is, so it gives them those kind of critical thinking skills that are so important in the world of work today.”
Three winners selected from regional competitions across the state will compete in Tallahassee in June for the statewide speech competition.