The Public Speakers’ Tournament (#16)

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Last week I told you about Sol, the young man with a crushing burden of family and school problems. I knew that Sol would be a success if he could summon the courage to attend the Second Annual Waldo County Speakers’ Tournament held on Saturday. This has been a hard winter for all of us in Waldo County. The mountains of snow and the unrelenting cold temperatures have made us discouraged. It is in times like this that we cling to the little things as signs that everything will work out all right in the end. I should have known better.

Last week Sol learned that his family is being evicted from their home. With ten people in the household and very little money it will be difficult for them to find a new place. That insecurity was probably the last straw for Sol and last week he dropped out of school. Over the weekend I held onto the hope that he would change his mind. I thought that if only he could attend the speakers’ tournament and have a success that it might be enough to give him hope.

When we opened the doors at 11 we learned that things can always go wrong. The first thing was that Ray had misplaced his Loft keys and Mike had locked his inside the Loft. I don’t carry Loft keys and all the rest of the staff was out of town. We could see the supplies we needed from the back window but there was no way to get inside. Finally Ron Tufo, our handyman extraordinaire and troubleshooter, arrived and gave Ray his keys. Then we learned that a third of the kids we had planned on were sick and would not be attending. That left us with five participants, 10 quarts of melting ice cream, and about 30 adults. The show went on.

I waited by the door for Sol from 12:00 to 1:00. No Sol. I felt like a kid waiting for Santa. If only Sol would show up it would prove that things would be O.K. The program began. No Sol. Every shadow that passed the window seemed to me to be Sol showing up. It wasn’t. We erased his name from the list of presenters. He never arrived.

There is so little we can control in the lives of youth. We can’t control their families or their school experiences. We can try to help them make friends but new friendships can burst like a soap bubble. We create opportunities for success but the kids have to walk through the door. Sometimes we have huge successes and other times we just keep on offering what we have to give and hoping for the best. We won’t give up on Sol even though his future seems pretty bleak right now but maybe success is closer than we think.

By the way, the kids who did make speeches were terrific. Gerald Womack won in the Junior Division and Ravi Weaver won in the senior division. Congratulations to all the kids who participated, we are so proud of you. Ravi and Jon Landers will be going to the regional public speakers’ tournament on March 28 in Orono. Good luck to both of them.

Ravi Weaver and Jon Landers

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Jumior category: Gerald Womack, Zack Woehler and Kirk Stillman

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Patricia Estabrook

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