Jessamine County student to compete in 4-H speech state competition

Published 1:28 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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Wilmore 5th-grader Stella Cochran is required, like every fifth-grader, to participate in a speech contest at the school level.

To the shock of Stella’s parents, her speech won at both Wilmore Elementary School and the county and regional competitions. She’ll compete as the only Jessamine County student at the state level this summer.

Last year, Stella also participated and won at the school level. At the time, she didn’t want to move forward. Since she won at the school level again this year, she had another chance to move forward and she decided that she wanted to give the competition a shot.

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“Her speech is about the fashion industry and its impact on the world through pollution and human rights issues, so it’s kind of a heavy subject,” said Stella’s father, Bradley Cochran. “I think that’s helping her cause as well, since they’re all kids, some students are doing it on ‘how to make your own grilled cheese sandwich.’”

Bradley said that Stella has always loved shopping growing up, but the kids have been raised to understand that one can have a good style and still shop at second-hand stores.

“In general, the kids have grown up in second-hand clothes, but they still look really cool all the time. That’s the angle of Stella’s speech– calling on the world to be conscientious consumers and aware and thoughtful about what’s actually going on in the world and the fashion industry,” Bradley said. “‘You know it’s just a massive industry and there’s a lot of negative things about it that should be acknowledged.”

This idea came to Stella after watching a documentary with her father last year.

“It made an impression on her and that’s what she wanted to do her speech on.”

Bradley said this was initially interesting for him and his wife because Stella had never been into speeches or any performing before this.

But, he said, “She’s kind of outgoing, sassy, and fun like that but she has that attitude about her. She was very nervous for sure going into the whole thing, but I think she quickly realized that she was pretty good at [giving speeches]. We’ve been trying to drill it in her head– just be yourself cause who you are is pretty charming anyway, so just be natural, and you’ll do well. It’s been fun to watch her journey through it, and it’s been good for her self-esteem as well. Not that there’s naysayers, just for herself.”

Stella even received some prize money to take with her on her family’s summer vacation. Her last award offered either that or $150 towards a 4-H camp.

“If a sports team won something, the next day you’d be congratulating the team,” Bradley said. “A little affirmation goes a long way but to not acknowledge it kind of has an adverse effect.”

In June, Stella will be returning to the stage for the state competition, where she’ll be representing Jessamine County.