Students compete at District wide Speech Contest.

About 70 elementary and middle school students, from around the district, got a "leg up" on their public speaking skills last Saturday during

the annual Districtwide Speech contest that took place at Anne Wien Elementary School.

It's the 25th annual installment of the event, but according to long-time teacher and administrator Leslie Campbell, the contest has roots that

date back to the year 1974 in Fairbanks.

The speeches, which were judged, included presentations written by the students, as well as humorous or serious interpretations of the work of others.

Campbell says the ability to get in front of a crowd and address is more important today, than ever before.

"It's an incredible privilege to be able to work with these children," says Campbell, who's retiring at the end of this school year.

"They're just beginning, many of them to begin their journey in education. Speaking is such an important part of everyday life, whether it's through

our careers or through community experiences, its something they will take with them forever."