Minnia Curtis has been teaching High School English for 28 years at Carlsbad High School in California. Over the last 11 years Minnia has coached the Carlsbad High School Speech and Debate Team, leading them to multiple Championships and National Ranking in the top 1% of teams in the USA (National Speech and Debate Association).  No small feat for this team which averages 120 members and competes in 17 different speech, interpretation, and debate events.

What is unique about the Carlsbad High School Speech and Debate program is the integration of the 4 Way Test into the curriculum.   In Ms Curtis’s class the 4-Way Test plaque is hung in a prominent place for all the students to see, and when she wrote the curriculum for college approval, she included the Rotary Test Speech as a central component.  Ms. Curtis integrates the Rotary Four-Way Test as a core portion of her classes in order to expose ALL students to the usefulness of  using the test as a basis for making good decisions, as well as to motivation for  competition.  Both Rotary Clubs of Carlsbad, High-Noon and Evening, have been participating in District 5340 4 Way Test Speech Contest for the last eight years. Due to the integration in the classes, over a thousand promising students have been exposed to the 4-Way Test.  

Ananya Thridandam, Vice-President of the Speech Team sees the 4-way Test Speech as “particularly important because it teaches us to consider impacts of various issues” and “enhances our ability to write and deliver effective speeches”.    

District 5340’s 4-Way Test Speech Contest begins at the school level. Students who excel are selected to participate in each of Carlsbad’s two Clubs 4-Way Test Speech contest. They can pick any subject that integrates the 4-Way Test into their presentation. The topics have ranged from chocolate to bullying. Winners are selected based on presentation skills and content that reflects the 4-Way Test. Winners continue to participate at a Sub Regional, Regional level with students from schools throughout San Diego County. Finalist compete at the District final.

Ms. Curtis sees the 4-Way Test impacting students by giving them a process for making good decisions and opening the pathways to sharing their passions and ideas and solving issues that teens see as important, often grappling with topics that are important on a much wider level.  Josh Tran, a Team Captain and District Finalist, says that “the Rotary 4-Way Speech assignment brings real-life application to the fundamentals of Speech”, appreciating that the the assignment works by “bringing the real world into the classroom.”