MONTREAL, APRIL 21, 2011 – The English Montreal School Board’s most dynamic orators commanded the podium during this year’s annual public speaking competition, held recently at Westmount High School.
This event, coordinated by EMSB English Language Arts Consultant Anne Beamish, featured 58 speeches by students from 10 different schools. This year’s incarnation was also the first to include a French-speaking competition for Cycle I students, and the participants did not disappoint, rising to the challenge in both official languages.
Day one featured three-minute personal narrative speeches by Cycle 1 students. The Secondary 1 students showed remarkable maturity, delivering stories which often mixed humour and life lessons. LaurenHill Academy student Eva Chatoor described ``Swearing at my mom” as “the scariest day of my life,” and Vincent Massey Collegiate’s Afiyat Jahan drew laughs for her speech “The Devil,” a funny look at the importance of religion and family. The winning speech, given by Aisha Nafees of Westmount High, however, took on a more serious tone, as it explored “the Consequences of Being Cruel,” and the guilt that comes with mistreating others.
The Secondary II students had equally compelling stories, including two which dealt with shooting incidents, one about conquering fears, and two about health crises, including Vincent Massey Collegiate student Julia Levantin’s “Seven Days of Silence,” about the week her brother lost his hearing. Still, it was FACE student Devlin Flood-Smith’s speech “Obsession,” about his love of the Swedish home goods store IKEA, which drew hearty laughter and really brought down the house, and it was no surprise when he was declared the winner.
This first day of competition also included a French-language competition, and the students showed their versatility with a variety of speeches on topics ranging from broken bones to new friends to LaurenHill`s Michael D’Amore’s well-argued case for “Le Retour des Nordiques du Quebec.” Among the most compelling speeches was Secondary II winner Alexa Soleil Pariseau from John F. Kennedy High School. “Sortie des Flammes” described a devastating fire that killed a family member.
On Day II, the Cycle II students put on their best debating faces and delivered four-minute persuasive speeches. The Secondary III students showed their willingness to tackle big issues, with speeches on topics including “Language Laws,” “Corporal Punishment,” “Global Warming,” and “The Crisis in the Middle East,” a scathing condemnation of the treatment of the Palestinian people by Royal West Academy’s Samir Karam.
Many of the Secondary IV students delivered speeches on topics that affected them personally, with winning entries on the topics of “Teens Getting Tatoos,” “Animal Exploitation,” and the winner, “Video Games are Good for You,” convincingly delivered by Matthew Reddy of LaurenHill. The final speech, by Royal West Academy’s Adrian Smith, was entitled “A World in Crisis,” and dealt with the most important issue facing the planet today – the speaker’s quest for a prom date.
Among the Secondary V speeches, technology and social media emerged as the most common themes, featuring in four of the 10 speeches, including second-place winner Jackie Roy of Westmount’s “Face Me, Not Facebook.” The winner, Royal West Academy’s Dimitri Koziris, articulately delivered a speech entitled “More Than a Number,” in which he pointed out that all too often we allow ourselves to be defined by numbers: salaries, GPA, number of Facebook friends – when the things that matter are far less easy to measure.
The winners from Cycle I were Aisha Nafees from Westmount (year one) and Devlin Flood-Smith from FACE (year II). Cycle II winners were Samir Karan from Royal West (year 1), Matthew Reddy from Laurenhill (year II), and Dmitri Koziris from Royal West (year three). Cycle I and Cycle II winners will move on to regional competitions, while the Secondary IV winner received an all expenses paid week to Encounters with Canada in Ottawa.