year old Melissa Temple is passionately pro-life and not afraid to speak up for her convictions. "I want other teens to know that one person can make a difference and that one voice can change the world," Temple says. On Saturday her enthusiasm and speaking skills combined to make the Johnson City teen winner of the 13th annual Tennessee Right to Life Oratory Contest for High School Students, one of the largest such competitions in the nation.
"I've always been pro-life for as long as I can remember," says Temple who was born and lived in Cape Town, South Africa before moving with her family to Johnson City. "In 9th grade I became passionate about the cause of life after studying the issue and learning more about the humanity of the unborn," she said. Temple then entered the local Right to Life speech contest in Northeast Tennessee and went on to win the state finals in both 2011 and 2012. Due to age restrictions, this is the first year for Temple to represent Tennessee at the national finals to be held in Washington, D.C. later in June.
"Once my interest was piqued there was no stopping me," a joyful Temple explained. "After my first participation in 2010 I was more determined than ever to come back."
The oldest child of David and Susan Temple, Melissa has four younger siblings, is home-schooled, and attends Heritage Baptist Church in Johnson City.
Other winners of the state contest include Benjamin Borck of Lebanon, Joshua Jackson of Nashville, and Abigail Kouns of Knoxville, all of whom received cash prizes from Tennessee Right to Life and financial scholarships from Aquinas College in Nashville, a lead sponsor and host for the annual competition. "It is a joy to host this competition each year," said Sister Elizabeth Anne, VP of Academic Affairs for Aquinas. "Hearing these students gives me hope that there is still good left in our youth...and the future of the pro-life movement looks bright!"
Melissa Temple, Benjamin Borck, Joshua Jackson, Abigail Kouns
Late last month, the Tennessee State House officially recognized the Tennessee Right to Life student contest with passage of HJR 1133, an honorary resolution commending the more than 1,000 students who have participated since 2000. "One of the most important things we can do as pro-life legislators is to encourage our young people to stand for life," said state Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland, Tennessee. "I am very proud to have brought this resolution forward in support of Tennessee's pro-life movement and, especially, our pro-life youth," Brooks said.