EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 2, 2014

Lawrence sophomore's power of voting essay wins Law Day contest

Lawrence sophomore's power of voting essay wins Law Day contest

By Sara Brown

---- — LAWRENCE ­— Lawrence High School sophomore Sage Couture can’t vote yet but already firmly believes in the power of voting and that every vote matters.

“Voting can bring change. If you don’t vote, you are letting others speak for you,” the 15-year-old said.

Couture won a speech contest for high school students sponsored by the Lawrence Bar Association yesterday. The topic of the speech was “American Democracy and the Rule of Law.”

“This is awesome. I can’t believe it,” Couture said. She received a standing ovation from a room filled with attorneys at Salvatore’s when she found out she won.

Couture was one out of six students who participated in the contest. She said her speech was about the importance of voting.

“It’s personal to me. I come from a low-income family and what happens during elections affect us and people like us. That’s why it’s important to vote so our voice can be heard,” she said.

When she is not busy writing award winning speeches, she participates in mock trial and theater at high school.

She admitted to being nervous before her speech.

“I don’t do a lot of public speaking. I was nervous. I was getting shaky but I pushed through it,” she said. “People came up to me after and said they liked my speech. That was great.”

Judges Lynn Rooney, Mark Newman and Peter DiGangi voted in the speech contest. Couture won $500 for her efforts.

“Oh my god, that’s a lot of money for me,” she joked.

Andover High student Irene Gu, Central Catholic High student Alexandra Hogan, Lawrence High student Ibrahim Ibrahim, Presentation of Mary Academy student Sebastian Lopez and Lawrence High student Leticia Valentin also participated in the contest. They won $100 as well.

Mayor Dan Rivera gave the keynote address during the event.

“How can you talk about the importance of voting when you’re a new elected mayor and won by 83 votes? I should probably just say that and sit down, right?” he joked.

“There is a direct correlation between what happens in our community and how we vote,” he later said. “Voting is power.”

Couture says she wants to go into psychology or theater for a career. However, this contest has now opened up new options.

“Law is always open. I actually find it very interesting,” she said.

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