By David Halbrook, with reporting by Chelsea Rankin
Patrick Henry College
Over two days in late March, 34 students competed in PHC’s first annual “Real Hope for the Future” speech contest, Chancellor Michael Farris’s recent brainchild for providing students a fresh forum in which to articulate their visions and desires for leading the country.
Junior Aaron Kamakawiwoole won the contest and its $1000 first prize with his speech on the importance of defending parental rights in the United States, describing his lobbying efforts in his home state of Hawaii to pass the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“The importance of the family unit is being universally devalued by the intelligentsia of our day,” Kamakawiwoole declared in the speech. “While former child slaves beseech world governments to support families in order to protect children, the minds of our time decry the family as antiquated. Perhaps they honestly do not understand how critical the family unit is to a right understanding of obedience, service, love, and stability. Whatever the reason, the family faces more oppression today than ever before.”
PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris, College founder
Competitors presented their speeches to Dr. Farris and a panel of judges from the local community, with each student addressing a current political, legal, cultural, or spiritual issue. Every contestant was required to explain how the problem could be resolved and how they would be a part of the solution.
“There were a lot of really outstanding ideas and many excellent presentations,” said Chancellor Farris. “We invited a panel of local judges to see which ideas would resonate within the community and, overall, I think the speeches inspired hope that we could really make a difference on important issues, as the Christian worldview defines what’s important.”
Two different panels of judges chose the top four speakers from each day, with the eight finalists narrowed to three, according to the highest scores given by the four judges who had judged both rounds.
“Seven out of the nine judges rated Aaron K. first,” noted Farris, “because I think they felt it was just a very unique and fresh presentation.”
Judge and area businessman Oscar Walker said he was impressed by the competitors’ ability to deftly interweave principles of faith and policy: “It’s becoming evident that the only enduring investment will be in the lives of young people who pursue God.”
Kamakawiwoole says he did not expect to win any prize and was shocked when his name was called for first place. As a research analyst for ParentalRights.org, the group lobbying members of Congress to pass the Parental Rights Amendment, Kamakawi¬woole says he has long held the universal beauty, shelter, and structure of the family unit in awe.
As he stated in his speech: “I am not a ‘man of influence’ in a ‘position of power’ – I am not even a parent who desires to protect his right to raise his children. I am twenty years old and have no vested interest save conviction in a cause which is worth my all. You don’t need to be an individual in a position that can shake the world to leave a mark on this earth. The key is faithfulness, and that is something that we can all achieve.”
Videos of the top “Real Hope for the Future” speeches will be released on the PHC website over the coming days. To view Aaron Kamakawiwoole’s winning speech, click on the embedded video below.