The Importance of Public Speaking

Public speaking skills are honed at St Catherine’s from an early age, with many opportunities provided to speak at our Barbreck assemblies. Under the watchful eye of Head of Junior School, Mrs Alana Moor, the girls are encouraged to research, rehearse and present to their peers and teachers. This development continues in the Senior School under a more structured format in the Debating and Public Speaking programs. This year, our Senior Debating Teams, made up of 50 girls competing on Thursday evenings at Scotch College in Term 2, have enjoyed considerable success. The younger debaters in Years 7 and 8 will enjoy their opportunity in Semester 2.

Decades of academic research has proven the benefits that accrue as a result of engaging in debate. Debate provides experiences that are conducive to cognitive development and presentation skills. In addition, debaters acquire unique educational benefits as they learn and polish skills far beyond what can be learnt in any other setting. At the very least, debate helps students to see the power of deploying rational, reasoned arguments and compelling evidence in action. It enables them to elucidate their standpoint through rhetorical eloquence. It instils in debaters a great sense of poise and confidence. It teaches them the skills of researching, organising, and presenting information in a compelling fashion.

The Debating Teams are all trained by St Catherine’s Old Girls, Kate Clark (‘14), Tess Price (‘14), Claire Gifford (’14) and Jacquelin Cantarella (’15) with great success. Our A Grade Team 2, B Grade Teams 1 and 2 and D Grade Team 2 are undefeated so far this year with the girls looking forward to the finals season and, in particular, their long awaited contest with the Scotch Senior B Team.

Congratulations to Best Speaker recipients, Greta Chen, Elizabeth Bolt, Brooke Maat and Annie Anezakis in A Grade and Demetria Avdalis, Georgie Sitch, Ingrid Crossing and Alexandra Cullen in B Grade and Lulu Murrell and Kavina Kalaichelvam in D Grade, as well as Henrietta Paterson who has received Best Speaker in both rounds of debate so far.

Over the course of this Term, a number of girls have also participated in public speaking opportunities. The Rostrum: Voice of Youth, held last Sunday, provided Junior Division Entrants, Allegra Dennison and Demi Markakis and Senior Division entrants, Samara Gill, Elizabeth Bolt and Lucy Porter opportunity to deliver prepared speeches across a range of topics. Congratulations to Demi Markakis who was selected as a finalist.

During our recent School Assembly, Brooke Maat stirred the audience with her delivery of ‘Girls should not receive equal play in sport’. Brooke, along with Mackenzie Leyden and Amber Chapman had competed successfully in the Rotary Public Speaking Competition.

In recent weeks, St Catherine’s also competed in the Bond University – High School Mooting competition. Congratulations to Sophie Sitch, Eve Alexiadis and Georgina McNab who proudly represented
St Catherine’s. Located in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the competition is designed to challenge students to prepare, articulate and defend complex arguments in order to solve problems. The legal argument is conducted before one or more judges. Mooting provides an introduction to the courtroom environment and gives an insight into the workings of the legal system. It is not only intended for those students who are interested in a career in law – although they will undoubtedly find the competition to be of particular interest – but for all students keen to expand their horizons. Congratulations to Sophie Sitch who was recognised as as Highly Commended Oralist.

With the guidance of Senior English teacher, Ms Mary-Anne Keratiotis, and Director of Student Wellbeing, Ms Merran O’Connor, the Debating and Public Speaking programs have gone from strength to strength at St Catherine’s.

Mrs Michelle Carroll


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