On Sunday, February 19th, the Royal Canadian Legion in Millbrook hosted the annual Youth Education Public Speaking Contest. Participants were invited from all local elementary schools, and six entrants joined the youngest age group in grades 1 to 3, with three contestants competing in the grades 4 to 6 category. Participants in this competition have already been recognized by their classmates and their schools, and winners are eligible to compete in the zone competition in Peterborough.
The younger speakers concentrated their efforts on telling stories, some of their own creation and some interpretations of tales by well-known published authors. The winner in this category was North Cavan student Olive Nixon, whose original story revolved around a spontaneous snowball fight that has become an annual event at the season’s first snow fall. Second place was picked up by Orion Adams, who retold a favourite Robert Munch story.
In the grade 4 to 6 categories, all contestants were North Cavan students and each told original stories based on personal experience and observations. Top marks for this group was awarded to North Cavan student Suzy Workman who described the pros and cons of pet ownership using personal anecdotes and stuffed animals for effect. Ainsley Dresossi described the annoying interruptions of television commercials that arrive at inopportune moments, effectively destroying the suspenseful buildup in television shows, while Lilly Zeehuisen told tales of famous and not-so-famous pug pets, wearing appropriate clothing to demonstrate her affection for this canine breed.
All contestants demonstrated an ability to entertain the audience with their composure and their animated and expressive gestures, and most stories included a healthy dose of humour. This annual event provides the opportunity for budding actors to hone their craft in front of a supportive audience and to see first-hand the competition they face. Once these participants got started, they embraced the stage and seemed to be unfazed by the performance anxiety that often accompanies these kinds of contests.
Public speaking events such as these prepare students for the unavoidable presentations that are required in later grades. The composure the participants are developing will build their poise and confidence for stressful situations such as job interviews where the subject matter is more intimidating and the ability to master one’s nerves is paramount.
Congratulations to these dynamic young people who are embracing the challenge of entertaining and communicating with their creative use of words, gestures and expressions, and thanks to the Legion for hosting this event that helps our youth build valuable life skills. KG