Debating and Public Speaking Update W8T3

Public Speaking – Rostrum: Voice of Youth Competition

A unique feature of our Public Speaking program at St Catherine’s is – having cultivated their skills throughout their School years – older students are required to give back to the program through mentoring younger students, helping to develop their manner and the content of their speeches.

To this end, many of our Senior students have been busy assisting our Years 7 and 8 students as they prepared to enter their first or second Public Speaking competition, while also taking part in the internal Rostrum: Voice of Youth Competition themselves. Fifteen students presented a wide variety of engaging speeches with strong delivery in this online forum.

In the Senior Division, first place was awarded to Eloise Rudge (Year 11) for her strong manner and empathetic delivery of her message regarding the small number of women in leadership roles making it difficult for younger women to be confident and world-ready. Second place was awarded to Ciara Jenkins (Year 11) for her intelligent exposition of the skewed representation of females in films, and the dire number of females in the industry itself, which fundamentally shapes that representation to audiences. Third place went to Victoria Patsakos (Year 12) who invited the audience to consider that the influence of film and music choices of young people have integrity and meaning rather than being vacuous. An honourable mention was awarded to Angela Yu (Year 11) whose creative use of language painted vivid oceanic images as she described the integrity and importance of our marine ecosystems.

In the Junior Division, first place was awarded to Minnie Chen (Year 7) for her articulate and incisive speech arguing that society dwells too much on success without acknowledging the hard work that is required to achieve it. Second place went to Rhea Werner (Year 9) who condemned the inequity in the current vaccine roll out internationally, arguing that wealthy countries have ensured their own self-protection at the cost of poorer countries. Third place was awarded to Kari Prendergast (Year 7) who argued that having the right attitude, family support and a healthy environment are important in dealing with personal challenges.

I would like to acknowledge all the participants in this year’s Competition for their interesting speeches and fine performances. In the Junior Division – Year 9 students, Jixuan (Jennifer) Gao, Keke Deng and Megan Chang. In the Senior Division – Annabelle Green (Year 11), Flora Du (Year 10), Jessica Yang (Year 12), Olivia (Rosie) Bogdan (Year 11) and Summer Balla-Kellett (Year 11).

Students often devote several years to refining their skills in Public Speaking competitions, and their resilience, tenacity and commitment in the face of cancellations are to be commended.

Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award & DAV Junior Public Speaking Competition

St Catherine’s has been involved in the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award for many years – it is one way of providing young students with the opportunity of examining the past and its role in shaping the present. Undaunted by the cancellation of the face-to-face competition, our students transitioned quickly to our internal online competition and explored content for their speeches in novel ways that spoke to their personal and contemporary experiences.

The requirements of this competition are that students need to present a five minute speech relating to the ideas of voluntary service, social justice, caring, personal effort, personal sacrifice and/or mateship. Year 7 students, Alexandra (Alex) Aumann and Sofia Sinclair spoke about the issue of social justice while Alexandra Mirabella focused on the importance of volunteering.

The winner of the competition was Year 7 student Harper Roberts for her animated and engaging manner and narrative about her great grandfather’s sacrifice when parachuting behind enemy lines, and for connecting the concept of modern sacrifice to those in health care professions such as front-line workers. Second place went to Year 7 student Kari Prendergast for her complex articulation of the importance and relevance of mateship both in the past (for soldiers in a POW camp) and in her own life reflected in those whom she values as her support team.

All students spoke confidently and passionately about subjects close to their heart, ensuring that they interpreted the values of the Legacy organisation in a contemporary and personal manner.

The DAV Junior Public Speaking competition also took place online on Tuesday 31 August, providing students with the much-needed opportunity of competing externally once again, as 85 Junior students competed online across six regions.

Students were required to develop speeches in response to the topics of: The Lost Arts; The Power of a Dream; and It’s a Small World. Our students, Minnie Chen (Year 7) and Year 8 students, Sophie Farrer, Rachel Carton and Heidi Axup responded with imagination and maturity to these topics drawing inspiration from the home-grown wisdom of mothers and grandmothers, and strong leaders and pioneers such as Jacinta Ardern, Jane Goodall and past leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr in developing their speeches. We wish all students well as they continue to refine their skills and compete in future Public Speaking competitions.

Ms Mary-Anne Keratiotis, Debating and Public Speaking Coordinator