Jonathan, a past pupil and local solicitor, who had enjoyed his own experiences of debating and public speaking while at school, kindly presented the cup in 1997. This has allowed the English Department to run an event at Key Stage 3 so as to encourage the development of skills essential for GCSE English and long term employability.
This year the pupils focused on a range of themes, covering topics as diverse as the true cost of fashion, the number of hours we all spend watching reality television and the impact of current developments in Technology! They began by undertaking some internet research on their preferred topics and then set about writing two minute speeches supported by facts and figures, anecdotal information and personal views and experiences. Once the speeches were prepared all pupils then delivered their talks to their classmates and were marked by their English teachers. Following this each class had to pick two winners to go through to the next stage of the competition. The best boy and girl from each class was selected and so on a warm June afternoon a group of nervous young people, well supported by their chosen friends and their English teachers, assembled in B5.
For the 2012 competition our adjudicators were Miss Susan Coyles, Head of English in Our Lady of Lourdes School, and Upper 6th student and Northern Ireland Debating Champion, Leo Evans. They gave generously of their time and expertise and were very complimentary about the quality of the speeches delivered. The very able finalists spoke on a variety of topics in a way that managed to both entertain and inform an audience that listened attentively and clapped enthusiastically. Their names and chosen titles are as follows:
10W Connor Johnston - Technology
10T Alice Peden - Teenagers
10M Naomi Anderson – The Devil wears Primark
10T Lewis Dobbin - Recession
10S Adam Mc Master – Sports Stars
10W Rachel Hastings - Teenagers
10M Alexander Harding – Technology
10S Rachel Kennedy – Teenagers
10R Nicole Shaw- Reality Television
10R James Stewart – Technology
Both judges spoke to the pupils about the quality of their performances and offered some advice on how to prepare and deliver speeches before undertaking the pleasant task of giving prizes to all who participated and announcing the winners in the traditional reverse order. The 3rd Prize was won by Nicole Shaw, while 2nd was secured by Rachel Hastings. The overall winner was Connor Johnston who showed assurance and a clear connection with his audience!
The proceedings then came to a close with Mrs Doherty making presentations to the adjudicators and thanking them for their wise and difficult judgements. By the end of the school day we were all ready for home, determined to make ethical fashion purchases, to avoid all reality television programmes, to employ technology sensibly and to think the best of our teenagers, especially those who spoke so well in Year 10!