MONTREAL, MAY 7, 2008- Thirty Secondary I to V students took part recently in the 2008 English Montreal School Board Public Speaking Contest at Westmount High School.
The students provided a wide range of interesting stories, ranging from a personal experience in the Israeli-Lebanon war, a close encounter with death at a young age, body image issues and the fear of a La Ronde roller-coaster. EMSB Secondary English Language Arts consultant Marsha Gouett chaired the event. She began the morning by saying that the allure of narrative is common to all cultures.
At the Secondary Cycle I level (Grades 7 and 8), the winners were both from Royal West Academy in Montreal West: Laura Loebenberg, for her story of living in fear while in Israel when the Israel-Lebanon war broke and Connor Macorin’s description of a flawed cottage.
While the Cycle I students focused on storytelling, the Cycle 2 (Grades 9, 10 and 11) participants delivered persuasive speeches on controversial topics such as abortion, depression, population control, reasonable accommodation, euthanasia, and autism rights.
At the Secondary III level, Alex Kooiman-Suissa of Royal West finished first for his story about population control. The Secondary IV winner was Tiffany Le from LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent who spoke about how new technologies are reducing human contact. Tiffany Le and Alex Weiner of Royal West Academy will be attending the Encounters with Canada conference in Ottawa next year, courtest of the Women’s Canadian Club of Canada which annually presents this prize to the top two Secondary IV finishers.
The Secondary V competition saw a tie for first place between John McCluskey of Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount and Greg Sheppard of Royal West. McCluskey focused on the Ethical Treatment of People with Autism. McCluskey is autistic and used his speech to persuade the audience that people with autism deserve equal treatment. “Just because some people with autism can’t speak, it doesn’t mean we can’t, think, or have emotions like anyone else,” he stated. Sheppard spoke about religious conflict. Both of these students will now go on to represent the EMSB at the Montreal Rotary Club finals, which will be held on May 13 at the St. James Club in downtown Montreal.
All participants received a certificate attesting their accomplishments, while the top three in each division were presented with medals. One of the competition’s judges, Dr. Anthony Paré, Director of the Writing Centre in McGill University’s Faculty of Education, explained the importance of passion. Dr. Paré stated that, even if he and the other judges might not agree with a speaker’s views, their passion must be acknowledged. Retired principals Richard Meades and Anne Peacock also served as judges.