Tampa 5th-grader's controversial speech earns spot in regional c - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa 5th-grader's controversial speech earns spot in regional contest

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Zachary Golob-Drake won a speech writing contest for his class at the Patel Partnership School in Tampa, but then had his blue ribbon taken away. Zachary Golob-Drake won a speech writing contest for his class at the Patel Partnership School in Tampa, but then had his blue ribbon taken away.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Last week, 5th-grader Zachary Golob-Drake won a speech writing contest for his class at the Patel Partnership School in Tampa, but then had his blue ribbon taken away by an assistant principal who called his speech's religious content "inappropriate."

On Monday, he delivered that speech again and was chosen to represent the entire 5th grade at the regional 4-H Tropicana Public Speech Contest.

"I was so nervous," he said after receiving another blue ribbon and gold medal. "I'm so happy and excited."

Golob-Drake's speech about the history of people using religion to justify murder caused a stir last week when he says Assistant Principal Candice Dodd told him he couldn't continue in the school's speech competition.

News Channel 8 told his story and it went viral online, and Golob-Drake gained supporters from around the world.

Related: Tampa 5th grader's religion speech sparks controversy

School officials postponed last Thursday's speech contest until Monday. They sent home permission slips to parents so they could decide whether they wanted their children to step out during any of the speeches.

All 4th and 5th grade winners presented their speeches Monday and Golob-Drake won for the 5th grade. He will now represent his school in the regional competition.

Watch: Zachary reads his speech

His speech included a brief paragraph on the Crusades, Genghis Khan and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. It ends by encouraging "the Golden Rule" and saying that would "make the world a better place."

His mother, Rhonda Golob-Drake was worried that the attention from the assistant principal would keep her son from getting a fair evaluation during the contest. She was also upset that the permission slip labeled his topic as: "Religious Beliefs Regarding Death."

Read the FULL TEXT of Zachary's speech "In the Name of Religion"

"That's not what the speech is about at all," she said. "That gives the wrong impression."

She said four students left the room during her son's speech. And three students left during a speech about Nikki Manaj.

"It's kind of funny that three of the four students who left during Zachary's speech had already heard the speech last week during the class presentation," she said.

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