Contest stirs excitement

Posted on April 1, 2006

Ask Texans about the National School Bus Safety Speech Contest, and they will tell you they are excited. Their program has grown greatly in the past few years.

While they began with 25 contestants in 2002, this year there are 73. Each year, more young Texans vie for a chance to win a state title and progress to the national stage.

What drives all this enthusiasm? Texas pupil transportation officials say it’s the kids themselves. Pam McCurdy, who works with Charley Kennington at the Texas Department of Public Safety, says past winners have noted that peer-to-peer dialogue is what makes kids want to join the competition. “Kids who participate in the contest sell it to other kids,” McCurdy says.

The fact that Kennington and McCurdy work year-round on the project also helps. They are serious about enlisting students because of the many benefits. During the research phase, for example, contestants must acquire and integrate current data to support their view on a pupil transportation safety issue and compose a four-to-six minute speech. They then present the speech without notes.

The process is an academic exercise certain to enhance a student’s body of knowledge. Building self-esteem and increasing confidence in public speaking are ancillary benefits. Also, families learn about pupil transportation and the dedication exhibited every day by school bus personnel.

School districts interested in participating in the 2006 contest should begin the process as soon as possible so that contestants have enough time to complete the assignment. Regional winners should be determined by the beginning of the 2006-07 school year, as the deadline to submit for the national competition is Sept. 29, 2006.

For help in implementing a local contest, contact McCurdy at (254) 759-7111 or [email protected].

Source: NAPT Dispatch, 3/13/06

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