Olivia Fryling, a senior at Redwood Christian Middle and High School in San Lorenzo, earned top honors March 18 at the Rotary Area 4 Level Richard D. King Annual Youth Speech Contest with a presentation paying homage to individuals who devote themselves to serving others.
Fryling described the guidance Rotary provided her to help cope with emotional challenges during her sophomore and junior years in high school, which set her on a course she hopes will lead to a career in child psychology.
"It is easy to say, 'This is not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem,'" Fryling said during her presentation. "Then there are those people who see the need, and they respond. I consider those people my heroes."
She added that Rotary International opens opportunities in similar ways by responding when it sees a need, such as eradicating polio, sponsoring clean water projects, supporting education, saving mothers and children, or providing disaster relief, all objectives of its programs in the U.S. and around the world.
Fryling, who represented the Rotary Club of Castro Valley, was awarded a $200 cash prize. She moves on to Northern Regional competition Friday for an opportunity to become one of four finalists to compete for district honors and a $1,000 cash prize April 24 at the District 5170 Training Assembly.
In a field of eight contestants, Brooke Nunes, a senior at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, placed second; and Regina Molitoris, a junior at Granada High School in Livermore, was third.
Sponsored by Rotary District 5170, the annual youth speech contest helps high school students in Alameda, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties recognize the importance of effective public speaking and gives them opportunities to develop oration skills, which this year were applied in a virtual Zoom format. The Rotary Clubs of Dublin, Castro Valley, Hayward, Livermore, Livermore Valley, Pleasanton, Pleasanton North and Tri-Valley Evening participated in the District 4 contest.