Virtual Academy student wins speech contest 



BAR HARBOR — “I believe animals have the right to live an amazing life, because just like us, we only have one life,” said Madelyn Marks, in the speech that won her first place in the district’s middle school contest on March 4.  

A resident of Trenton and a student at the Mount Desert Island Regional School System’s Virtual Academy, Marks was one of 10 finalists who competed via Zoom before their peers and three judges. This year’s theme for the contestThis I Believe, was inspired by the National Public Radio series of the same name.  

In her speech, Marks focused on the equal and humane treatment of animals.  

“Animals have the power to heal, save lives and cheer someone up,” said Marks. 

Ruby DeMuroa seventh gradeer at Conners Emerson, placed second for her speech titled “Make It Last. In it, she shared her experience of saying goodbye to a favorite uncle who died of cancer.  

“If I could ever have a do over day, this would be it,” said DeMuro in her speech, referring to the day before he died. “I would walk up to my weak and dying uncle and put all that I could into that last hug. Maybe then, I wouldn’t have the same lingering pain as I do now hanging over me so heavy that all I want to do is break down and cry. 

“Even though I still think these things, I also feel that he is still here. He’s still in the wind. He’s still in my heart.” 

Tremont Consolidated School eighth grade student Julia Ramos placed third with her speech about childhood.  

“Growing up means responsibilities and pressure and stress, no one wants that,” she said. “Adults expect us to be adults but somehow also be children. What we need is to be able to have our childhoods without expectations, because our childhoods don’t last forever.” 

“When did our childhood turn into a burden? The answer is simple, the world evolved and adults started expecting kids to grow up. 

“They expect us to deal with issues like race, climate change, gun control and misogyny, issues that they have ignored for years. Issues they expect us kids to figure out. The day we are left to be kids and left to have our own experiences without pressure and anxiety for the future will be the day we can finally start experiencing these wonder years our parents tell us about.” 

Students who participated in the district competition from Tremont, Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert and Bar Harbor were all part of speech competitions in their seventh and eighth grade classrooms. From there, those who scored highest competed in a school-wide speech contest and the winners went on to compete in the district contest. This competition is not tied to any county or statewide speech competition.  

Other students who made it to the top 10 for the district competition included, Pemetic Elementary School eighth grade students Leana Howe and Per Lisy, Mount Desert Elementary School eighth grade students Lulu Damon Dong and Alex Oehmke, Swan’s Island School eighth grade student Savannah Hedgepeth, Tremont Consolidated School eighth grade student Evangeline Meister and Conners Emerson School eighth grade student Mai Ishimura. Subjects ranged from believing in cloudy days, the power of words and the power of pets, to being able to do anything you set your mind to doing. 

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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