Transformation was celebrated at Springfield Baptist Church Saturday during an oratorical contest for young students. Approximately 75 attended the event, which was sponsored and hosted by the Thomson Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Students in grades six through college freshmen told their versions of a person or organization that has transformed lives and helped communities.
Many told how local leaders such as McDuffie County Probate Judge Valerie Burley, former football star Eddie Lee Ivery, the late professor Joseph Greene, and Springfield's pastor and county commissioner Fred Favors have inspired them.
Others told well-known stories of famous civil rights activists such as Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while adding how their own thoughts and lives have been influenced by them.
The speeches apparently inspired the audience, who clapped and cheered after each one. A standing ovation was given after the final speech.
"I don't think this was a wasted hour because surely we are more knowledgeable, now, and can help our brother (and sister)," Mistress of Ceremonies Anita Cummings said.
Judges for the event were Pam Anderson, William Doupe', Pamela Johnson, Deleki Lee, Charlie Riley and Gwendolyn Rountree.
"I have been trying cases for years, and I'm here to tell you that most of you kids were better than the lawyers I hear in court," said Mr. Doupe', who is the senior assistant district attorney of the Toombs Judicial Circuit. "You all are to be commended. We (judges) were a hung jury back there. That was tough because you all did so well."
The judges graded each speech on enunciation and pronunciation, expression and recitation of delivery, and use of imagination, individualistic approach, accuracy of information, logical development and clarity of ideas of the content.
"All the speeches were excellent, so you are all winners. But, we had to critique you on the little things because it was so close," Mr. Riley said.
Jacoby L. Crawford won first place in 11th grade -- college freshmen division, with La'Davian Climons coming in second and Jaqueshia Stephens and Tiffany Sturgis tying for third.
Tycarius Cummings placed first in the ninth-10th grade division, Khalil Henderson placed second and Sacrianna Woods won third place.
In the sixth through eighth grade division, Iteonna Bailey won first place, Shanterrica Stephens was second and Symone Bennett was third.
Monetary prizes were awarded, ranging from $25 to $100.
Other participants in the contest were Jasmine Lockett, Tiera Brinkley, Ariel Hampton, Brianna Burns, Jessica Denson and Anthony Moss.
While judges tallied the scores, more inspiration was delivered through dance by the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church youth department drama team and Springfield Baptist Church's Pearls of Praise.