Natchez High freshman excels at Youth Leaders Conference

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 11, 2000

When 14-year-old Hillaire Long speaks, people listen.

Long, a freshman at Natchez High School, won first place honors this spring at a Youth Leaders Conference at the University of Southern Mississippi. The exercise required Long to draw from a number of topics and with only about 30 seconds to think about her topic, she had to give a two to three minute speech on the issue.

&uot;I felt so good about myself afterwards,&uot; Long said about the experience.

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She competed against five other students in her category to win first place.

&uot;It was my first year and the people I competed against had been there three or four years,&uot; she said.

The topic she drew, required her to talk about failed leaders and why they might have failed.

Several other students also selected the same topic, but Long differed in how she approached it.

The judges told Long, she was the only student who talked about more than just one leader in her speech.

Long said she started out talking about President Bill Clinton and the difference between failing in one’s personal vs. professional life.

She concluded her speech saying that leaders are not necessarily politicians.

Long, said the advice of her public speaking teacher, Jackie Schulze was a big help to her.

&uot;My speech teacher taught me to think of the the first and last line,&uot;&160;Long said.

That way, you know how you are going to begin your speech and how you are going to end.

At the leadership conference, students also attending workshops to help make them more effective leaders.

&uot;I learned a lot,&uot; said Long, who wants to attend the conference again next year.

Long also was the mistress of ceremonies at another state meeting, the Not Here Foundation Violence Prevention Seminar.

In that case, she also had only a few minutes to come up with a speech on Natchez High’s Peer Mediation program.

Long is the daughter of Kathy Long and Roy Cummings.