This year’s Transition Year house speech competition, which took place at eight o’ clock o the final evening of September was, I believe, considered by all who went to be a great success. The annual competition which has been taking place in the college for several years now showcased ten speakers, with two different speakers from each senior house who delivered words on a range of various topics of their choice.
Having watched many of the candidates preparing their speeches in our English lessons throughout the week, and having also given advice as a class on how they could improve their speeches, it was interesting to see how the speeches turned out.
After filing in from the cool night air of Chapel Square, to settle under the varnished arching beams of the Big Schoolroom, the evening commenced rapidly with a short word from Ms Smith followed by a warm welcome by the appointed presenter of the evening, Lydia Johnson, whose responsibility it was to explain the marking scheme of the competition and introduce each speaker.
First to the stage was Roman Sharykin student from Glen House who confidently began the evening with a speech that questioned how far one would go in order to impress and be noticed by others, or as he himself put it “be accepted.” Being from Moscow, he referred to a recent incident that has taken place near his home where a heavy metal music group, ‘Pussy Riot,’ in order to gain more fame for themselves, stirred up great controversy. Entering a Russian Orthodox Cathedral they performed a heavy metal song behind the altar - the place where Christ is believed to reside, resulting in a two- year prison sentence for each band member. He claimed that the band had “put fame in the centre of their lives” and that they had been willing to go extremely far in order to “be accepted.” Having stated at the start of his speech that his objective had been to “make people think,” he finished the speech with asking how far each of us would go to be accepted.
Speaking for Gwynn house, Alex Barnes-Auld followed Roman with an equally good speech where he recounted some various experiences from boarding in Columba’s,in Gwynn House itself. He explained to the crowd that although he could find it tough at times, ‘returning to dorm after a tiring day where he would find his mattress outside in the rain,’ he very much enjoys his time in Gwynn and loves being a member of the house.
Stepping in for Eliza Hancock who was ill, Jesse Faulkner, having only had one hour’s rehearsal time took on the challenge of reading her house-mate’s speech, pulling it off with great confidence.
Other candidates who followed on in succession for the evening’s entertainment were Freya Pierce, who, having written a speech entitled “issues” told the school about previous problems which used to affect her speech such as a lisp and a stutter, Callan Elliot who spoke about dogs and various aspects about them, and Ally Boyd Crotty who tried to explain to the audience that she was not obsessed with cats. This speech later earned Ally second place in the competition, while third place was jointly won by Roman Sharykin and Peter Quigley who gave a very amusing speech on North Korea “which is located North of South Korea”, or so he said. The first prize in the competition was claimed by Muqtadir Shah of Gwynn house who was acclaimed by the judges to be the unanimous winner after giving an excellently moving speech about his younger brother with autism, which I myself found particularly easy to relate to having myself a brother with Down Syndrome.
Although not having made speeches that won awards, credit of course also must be given to the other speech makers involved, Nadia Al-Lahiq, who had the audience laughing with an account on the advantages and disadvantages of having frizzy hair, and Christian McKeever who made an extremely funny speech about ‘gamers,’ those who spend all their time indulging in video games.
While the judges deliberated over their deciding of the competition’s winners, Lydia Johnson who as part of presenting the speeches was assigned to organise a form of entertainment to occupy the crowd at this point of the evening, called a group of members up from Transition year to dance a routine which had been prepared earlier. Although not entirely what the teachers and indeed the crowd had expected, - a large dance routine to the song “Gangnam Style.” The laughable (and, it must be said,) slightly cringe-making dance ensured that everyone was enjoying themselves.
I believe that everyone in the hall that evening was not only content with the announcement of the chosen winners, but also with the whole evening in general with its enthusiastic audience and unmistakably warm cheery atmosphere that is present in most school events such as this.