Student tackles sensitive subject in speech contest 

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Seventh and eighth grade students every spring are eligible to participate in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (AOS 91) middle school speech competition.  

Pemetic Elementary School eighth graders in March chose an open letter format in which to write an informative, persuasive piece that had meaning to them. Students were allotted time to practice their speeches and to receive peer feedback during class. The students then presented their speeches to teacher Kelli Clark and another school staff member who acted as judges.  

The speeches were required to be three to five minutes, and scores were given based on presentation and ability to convey the topic. Those who received the five highest scores would move on to the middle school speech contest. 

The five students who got those top scores were Alex Donahue, Emma Gosselin, Edmund Kelley, Mason Lapoint and Lylah Wagstaff, who presented their speeches in the music room in front of a panel of school staff. The top two students would move on to the district-wide competition. 

The top two who advanced were Wagstaff, who placed first, and Lapointe, who came in second. They participated in the AOS 91 Speech Competition held at Camp Beech Cliff in March, where Trenton Elementary School’s Lily Guess won the event with her speech about climate change. 

Although one of the Pemetic School students did not make it to the district-wide competition, she said she was happy to speak out on a topic that she struggles with on a daily basis. Eighth-grade student Emma Gosselin’s speech was about depression. 

Gosselin, tapping into her own experiences, detailed how depression has affected her mood, thoughts and behavior.  

“Writing this letter felt good to get off my chest,” she said.  

Her aim was to not only spread mental health awareness but to let people who struggle with it know they “are not and will never be alone.” 


Gosselin’s speech contains subject matter related to mental health. Learn more from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at For those in crisis, reach out to the Crisis Text Line (Text TALK to 741741) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

Dear Depression 

By Emma Gosselin 

You often come in the worst times. You take the memories and moments of joy and twist them into something less. You bring along a sense of gloom and doom. 

You don’t care who you affect, anyone and everyone is a potential victim. Any age, any gender, any race. 

You take away our motivation to do daily tasks, like getting out of bed and combing our hair or brushing our teeth. You affect how we feel, think, and act. My friends and family worry about my health. They see what you’re doing to me. We all do.  

You flood our heads with bad thoughts, tearing us apart till there’s barely anything left of who we are. 

I stopped talking to my friends, telling myself that they don’t care about me. I compared myself to the other girls around me, changing myself to better fit what I thought I was supposed to look like. Instead of hanging out with my friends, I’d be in my cluttered, messy room. Feeling disgusted with myself. 

I wish I was skinnier, that I was more like the girls in magazines. I know it’s not realistic, but with the media flood and having girls similar to that around me, makes it impossible for me to not wish to be like that. 

A memory that I constantly think about is one from just last year when my best friend moved away and I was alone again, it got to the point where I could barely sleep, and getting out of bed felt like it would kill me, because nothing felt like it was worth anything. 

I often find myself asking why I feel so out of place, like every time someone looks at me they are criticizing everything I do, taking notes of all my flaws.  

But even while writing this letter, I have thoughts questioning myself. Am I doing a good enough job? Does anyone even actually care? Do I look dumb?  

Depression has a huge impact on everyone, not just the people who have it. Depression can seriously do a lot of damage and it is important for us to look out for each other.  

While we might not understand what each other are going through, it’s important for us to know were not alone and to help each other when we need it most. 

Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers the town of Bar Harbor. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor’s degree in San Diego from the University of California.

Ninah Rein

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