Reconnecting after COVID: Avon HS student puts her state championship 4-H speech idea into action

Katherine Langford delivers her winning persuasive speech at the Indiana State Fair in July. (Photo provided by Langford)

By Lindsay Doty

Katherine Langford, a junior at Avon High School, has a passion for public speaking and helping her community.

The speech and debate team member was recently named 4-H State Champion at the Indiana State Fair for her persuasive speech on tackling a community problem. 

The 16-year-old came up with the idea of creating a local speaker bureau to help tackle the lack of connections in Hendricks County due to COVID-19 and the exploding population.

The bureau would identify people who have common interests and connect them with community groups.

“With the Hendricks County Speaker Bureau, I hope to help our community reengage in forming social connections after COVID,” says Langford. “If the pandemic continues into 2022, then reconnecting virtually, at the very least.”

The teenager hasn’t forgotten all the missed human connections in the past year. 

“Through the pandemic school extracurriculars, community service projects and local community gatherings were shut down, making it difficult to feel interconnected with the community,” she said.

This fall, she’s working to turn her program into reality and has a goal to recruit 100 speakers by late fall.

“When people share their stories or their knowledge, commonalities are found, empathy

can be built and a stronger connection is formed. I think if we understand each other

better, we will build a better, stronger and tighter community,” she said. 

The outgoing junior who has a natural curiosity about people says she enjoys public speaking. She’s got plenty of experience already on her resume. 

“When I was young, I competed in the Optimist Club Oratorical competition. I loved

public speaking and quickly learned about the connection that happens through

speaking about your passions,” she said.

She hopes to expand public speaking opportunities to not just kids but everyone in the community.

If people are interested in getting involved or becoming a speaker, they can sign up at 

tinyurl.com/HCSBSignUP or contact Langford at hendrickscountyspeakersbureau@gmail.com

The program website will launch on Oct.1.