Shawsheen’s Kaitlyn Gordon in State Speech Finals
Competition set for April 20 in Mansfield.
(Editor's note: The following information was submitted by Shawsheen Tech.)
Kaitlyn Gordon first attended Shawsheen Valley Technical High School to study health with hopes of some day becoming a nurse.
“I thought I could get past all of the needles and blood,” laughed the senior from Tewksbury.
Ultimately, her fear of one activity that made her stomach queasy led her to another forum that makes just about everybody else’s stomach queasy, public speaking.
On April 20 in Mansfield, Gordon will appear in the state finals for a speech competition. She earned her spot in the state finals by winning a zonal competition in Billerica in early January and the Lions Club Mid-Winter Regional Youth Speech Competition in Andover 10 days later. The district competition was in front of more than 100 people.
Kristin Sciacca, one of Gordon’s teachers at Shawsheen, was impressed with Gordon’s demeanor under pressure.
“She’s a rock,” Sciacca said. “The speech was about nine minutes long and she wrote the entire thing and developed all of the examples herself. It combines the personal and the universal as a call for the listener to find potential power within. She did a great job and should make Shawsheen proud.”
Sponsored by the Lions Club, the speech competition is based on a single question every year. This year’s subject was “What is the power of just one?”
“She used personal examples and national figures,” Sciacca said. “She did a great job.”
A senior in the business technology shop at Shawsheen Tech, Gordon spoke of her mother and of the school shooting on Columbine, Colorado during her speech. Gordon said she learned of the tragedy through her studies in school.
“My mom is my biggest inspiration,” said Gordon, whose mother lost both her brother and mother when she was young. “She used [the experiences] as a learning experience instead of a grieving experience.”
Gordon also refers to Rachel’s Challenge, which was started in honor of Columbine shooting victim Rachel Joy Scott by Rachel's dad and stepmom. Rachel's Challenge is helping create safer learning environments and making a world-wide impact through a series of student empowering programs and strategies that equip students and adults to combat bullying and allay feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion.
Rachel Scott was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999.
Gordon used a form of the speech last year during the speech competition at Skills USA, where she finished in third place in the state.
After December’s tragic shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Gordon revised her speech and used it during the Lions Club competitions as well.
“She wrote her speech in October,” said Sciacca. “Given the events of December, her speech took on a whole new meaning.”
Gordon participated in her first speech competition as a sophomore through the Business Professionals of America and hasn’t slowed down since.
A National Honor Society student and an athlete (swimming and lacrosse) at Shawsheen, Gordon has been accepted to the honors program at Framingham State University where she plans to major in English and minor in secondary education.
She might just have a few more impressive lines of her resume before she attends.