With Phil Ardussi, president, Rotary Club of Lakewood & Rocky River, are speech contest winners (from left) Natalie El Dabh, first place, Rocky River High School; Anna Weixel, second, Rocky River; Isabella Olivio, fourth, Rocky River; and Mary Kate Campbell, third, Magnificat.


Winners of Rotary’s annual Speech, Music, and Visual Arts Contest were honored at an awards ceremony April 7 at the Beck Center for the Arts.

Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lakewood & Rocky River, the competition showcases the incredible talents of students attending one of five high schools – Lakewood, Lutheran West, Magnificat, Rocky River, and St. Edward.


Speech contest first place winner is Natalie El Dabh from Rocky River High School, who went on to win the Rotary District 6630 Speech Contest on April 5 in Aurora. She will present her speech at the district conference at Quail Hollow on April 26.

Also honored were Anna Weixel, second place, Rocky River; Mary Kate Campbell, third place, Magnificat; and Isabella Olivio, fourth place, Rocky River.

Speech contest semi-finals were March 15 at the Beck Center and the finals at the Rotary club’s March 31 meeting. Speeches must be of original content and be based on “The Four Way Test of Rotary” which asks, “Is it the truth, Is it fair to all concerned, Will it build goodwill and better friendships, and Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

Three of the four music contest winners are from Lakewood High School. First place winner is Daniel Toner, cello, performing “Cello Concerto No 1” by Shostakovich. Max Mulready, piano, placed second, performing “Opus 64, No 2” by Chopin. Irina Vatamanu, harp, Mozart’s “Concerto for Flute & Harp” received honorable mention. Soprano, Kaya Sittinger of Rocky River High School placed third, performing “Sure On This Shining Night” by Barber.

The contest, which follows the judging standards set by the Ohio Music Education Association, was held on March 5.

Visual arts winners were Liz McIlwee, “Naturally Bright,” oil paint, Lakewood, first place; Nathan Grose, “Grizzly Bear,” clay, St. Edward, second place; Isabella Hoskins, “Gratuitous Portrait of Myself,” pencil, Rocky River, third place.

Honorable mentions went to Istwan Vozary, “Tancho” (teapot), clay, St. Edward; Noah Lorence-Comi, “Autumn,” chalk pastel, Rocky River; and Jack Matthews, “Alligator,” clay, St. Edward.

Judging for the visual arts portion took place March 14-15. Over 100 pieces, of numerous styles employing various media, were submitted by all five schools. A jury of artists selected outstanding works of art meeting the contest requirements. From this gallery, judges chose the award winners.

Selected entries from the visual arts contest are on display in the Rotary Student Art Show in the Jean Bulicek Galleria at the Beck Center now through April 20. This exhibit is free and open to the public during regular gallery hours.

“This annual event is a wonderful way to acknowledge the talents of our youth,” stated Ed Gallagher, Beck Center director of education, “and the quality work of the participants truly shows that the arts and creativity are alive and well in our community.” This is the eleventh year that the Beck Center has collaborated with the Rotary club for this competition.

All winners received congratulations and prize money from Phil Ardussi, Rotary club president. “Our club has a long history of recognizing, encouraging and supporting the youth of our community in many areas of endeavor,” he told the audience. “We celebrate each participant’s talent, hard work and persistence.”

Support for the event was provided by FFL Investments Services at First Federal of Lakewood.