Centralia College Student From Chehalis Places at State Public Speaking Championship


Lyndi Klacik didn’t expect to compete at the Washington’s community college state championship for public speaking, but on Saturday, July 23, that’s exactly where she found herself. 

Raised in Chehalis, Klacik, 17, was homeschooled and hadn’t set foot in a school until she began attending Centralia College as a Running Start student during the fall of 2021. 

Klacik, one of seven siblings, was the fifth child in her family to attend Centralia College and was the third to take a speech class at the school.

“I thought that was just something you do,” Klacik said. “I ended up really liking the class and Jeff is a great teacher.”

Klacik had no prior speaking experience when she signed up for her speech class in the spring quarter, but soon found herself in the speech club as well. While Klacik may not have had experience with speech, it fit well with her goals of studying communications and government before entering the legal field as a law clerk. 

“I started doing the speech club and then he asked me if I wanted to be the back up (for the championship),” Klacik said. 

Originally the back up for Centralia College in the competition, Klacik found herself unexpectedly competing when the school’s main competitor had to withdraw. 

“I knew I was the backup, and about three or four days before I found out I would be standing in for her,” Klacik said. 

While the competition was stressful, Klacik said she also had a lot of fun. The day before the competition there was a barbecue where the candidates from the different schools had the chance to get to know each other. 

The day of the championship, all of the competitors were given a room to practice in before the competition that afternoon. 

“I was in the second half,” Klacik said. “I just practiced as much as I could and just did it.”

For her speech, Klacik chose a topic she knew well, the story of Christian missionary Bruce Olson. According to Klacik, Olson helped spread Christianity to Native Americans in the area of the Colombian and Venezuelan border while only 19 years old. 

“It was considered impossible and no one had done it before and he was 19,” Klacik said. “And everyone told him he was crazy but he persevered through so many setbacks. He was very patient, took his time and was very wise about it. He realized (conversion to Christianity) didn’t have to tear their culture apart.”

For the championship, called the “Statewide Inspirational Speech Championship,” students from about 30 community colleges statewide competed in front of judges. This year’s judges were Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Indu Thomas and Central Washington University Business Administration Professor Luke Williams.

Despite her unexpected entry into the competition only days before, Klacik did well, placing fourth. While she found the competition stressful, she also said the experience was enjoyable. She even got along well with the other competitors. 

“For the whole experience, it was just super great,” Klacik said. “It didn’t really feel like we were competing against each other. We felt like we were competing with each other.”