Speech tournament, a pageant and Zetas


Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.

Shannon Williams, a 10th-grader at PASSAGE Christian Academy, will travel to Philadelphia Memorial Day weekend to compete in the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament in speech and debate.

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Alayna Jones, a student at Santa Fe College, will represent Florida at the Miss US International 2013 Pageant. (Special to the Guardian)

Shannon, 16, and the daughter of Sol and Suzzanne Martin, qualified for the finals after winning a regional competition in March in Jacksonville. She will be competing in the oratorical declamation category, which is only open to ninth and 10th graders and requires students to recite a speech or a portion of a speech previously given by another person. The speech cannot exceed 10 minutes.

In the regional competition, Shannon won by reciting the second inaugural speech given by President Abraham Lincoln a month before he was assassinated on April 14, 1965.

Shannon said she will practice hard before she goes to nationals.

“I will be trying to remember the same speech I gave in Jacksonville and I will be working with Dr. (Fred) Ball (principal at PASSAGE academy) on the tone and the pitch that I have to present in order to try to win,” said Shannon, adding that the hardest thing about the competition is not knowing what is going on in the minds of the judges. “You don't know what is going on with them, so you want to do your best.”

— Cleveland Tinker

Zetas

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and its Zeta Amicae Women's Auxillary of Gainesville teamed up to donate underwear to female clients of the Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network. More than 20 packs of underwear in various sizes was donated as part of the Zeta ZHOPE (Zeta Helping Other People Excel) Initiative.

Pageant contestant

A young Gainesville resident who was crowned Miss Florida U.S. International 2013 in November is preparing for the national competition.

Twenty-one-year-old Alayna Jones, a student at Santa Fe College, will represent Florida at the Miss U.S. International 2013 Pageant in June in Orlando.

Alayna said winning the Miss Florida U.S. pageant was a dream come true. “I'm really excited,” Alayna said. “I cried, my mom cried. It was awesome.” The pageant included a one-on-one interview, evening gown and swimsuit competitions, and an onstage interview.

Alayna, a graduate of Eastside High School and the daughter of Angela and Kevin Jones, is looking forward to competing in the Miss U.S. International pageant. She will be competing for a chance to win cash prizes valued in excess of $50,000, a fashion wardrobe, jewelry and other awards.

Alayna, a model who takes dance classes at SF College, is not new to beauty pageants. In 2010, while attending Florida A&M Univesity in Tallahassee, she was named Miss Tallahassee.

“Pageants are a lot of fun and I like being on stage and showing what I can bring to the table,” she said. “I like meeting new people and making new friends.”

To prepare for the Miss U.S. International pageant, Alayna works out everyday and watches beauty pageants online, paying special attention to onstage questions. “You have to think on your feet because you have no idea what the questions will be,” she said. “There's a lot of work to get ready and my mom helps me.”

Alayna said her mom is her greatest inspiration.

“My mom has been my greatest influence,” Alayna said. “She's willing to help me and she has taught me to be self-reliant.”

Alayna's advice to girls considering entering a beauty pageant: “Be yourself and don't worry about what people may say,” she said. “Even if you lose, take it as a lesson learned.”

— Aida Mallard

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