Students promote ethics in Rotary Club speech contest

Batavia, Clermont NE students advance to district competition

Batavia High School’s Ben McDonough and Clermont Northeastern High School’s Savannah Davidson will represent their schools and the Batavia Rotary Club when they give their speeches at Wittenberg University for the Rotary district Four Way Test speech competition.

The Batavia Rotary Club chose Clermont Northeastern’s Savannah Davidson, and Batavia High School’s Ben McDonough to represent their schools and the club at the district Four Way Test speech contest. Three students and one alternate from each school participated in the club contest. From left are Batavia Rotary Club President Dan Haglage, Nathan Tipton, of CNE, Tyler Roberson, of Batavia, Davidson, Batavia alternate Jared Craig, CNE alternate Nick Twine, Matt Montgomery, of Batavia, Ty Cahill, of CNE, McDonough, and Club Vice President Pastor Dave Phaneuf.
Davidson and McDonough were awarded first place for their “Four Way Test” speech in front of the Batavia Rotary Club members Tuesday, Feb. 22. The club sponsors the annual speech contest for Batavia and CNE students.

The speeches focus on the club’s famed Four Way Test, which states that a person should be able to answer four questions with a positive for the things they think, say, or do. They must ask, is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendships, and will it be beneficial to all concerned?

“It is very important that we get the four way test out to our youth and the public,” Batavia Rotary Club President Dan Haglage said. “The origin of the test was to give general actions guidelines within the Rotary and outside, but it is more than that. Whatever you do in your daily life the four way test applies.”

In Davidson’s speech, the Clermont Northeastern FFA member spoke of the tests’ application to FFA activities. She said the test can be used for something as specific as judging soil or as general as determining what service activities the organization will undertake in a given school year.

A Batavia sophomore, McDonough took a different approach. He said that humans throughout history have consistently failed the Four Way Test when they have not stopped to consider their actions. It is vital for Rotary Club members to lead by example in making their community better and emphasizing the ethics put forth in the test, McDonough told the audience.

Club board member and former president Mac Hickman said each of the six students who spoke Tuesday morning first won a speech contest within their school.

“The contest is design to see how the students interpret the Four Way Test and how it affects their lives,” Hickman said.

The two winners will go onto the district contest on the road to the national contest. McDonough and Davidson each received a $100 check for their achievement. Second place winners Ty Cahill, of CNE, and Tyler Roberson, of Batavia, each received a $50 check. Third place winners Matt Montgomery, of Batavia, and Nathan Tipton, of CNE, were awarded $25.

Haglage said the Four Way Test was developed in 1932 by Chicago businessman Herb Taylor, who was looking for guidelines for the Club Aluminum Company as he led them out of bankruptcy. Taylor, who was himself a Rotary Club member, led the club to adopt the test as its own guide for personal, business, and global ethics.

“It has been the hallmark throughout the club since then,” Haglage said.

There are more than 32,000 Rotary Clubs world wide, and Haglage said there is at least one in every country in the world.

“We try to make our community better by putting service above self,” Haglage said. “We take a leadership role in promoting good will and developing partnerships to make our community a better place.”

The Batavia Rotary Club holds several community events throughout the year, including the Easter Egg Hunt at Sycamore Park on April 9 and the golf outing on June 15. Haglage said all community members are welcome to both events.