Congratulations to Harry Jaconelli, Zuzanna Ozon and Esmee Eva of Year 10 AND Tobias Cooper, Murray Robinson and Saad Yousaf of Year 9.

On Tuesday evening they went to compete in the Youth Speaks inter-school public-speaking competition at Lady Lumley’s school in Pickering – and both teams triumphed! They beat teams from Lady Lumley’s, Malton, Ryedale, Selby and Scarborough College.

They are through to the District Round, in York, a week on Friday – so please also wish them luck!

A reflection from Mr Brindle:

The evening of the competition approached and I was pleased to see how well the students controlled the butterflies in their stomachs! We arrived suitably early at Lady Lumley’s School in Pickering, for a bit of last minute rehearsal, then the Intermediate team was sent to the spacious Sixth Form common room, whilst the Junior team remained in the Hall for their competition.

Students from six local schools were in attendance, vying for the win and the one spot that would take them to the next (District) round in York. In previous years, the Runners-up had also progressed. Malton School’s sixth formers won the Senior competition, Ryedale School had past champions, as did Lady Lumley’s, the hosts. Scarborough College and Selby School have also enjoyed past success.

I accompanied the Intermediate team who were slotted to speak first. Harry Jaconelli’s speech was fluently and passionately expressed; he exhorted the listeners not to blindly conform to the media’s Idea of the Ideal, that is, the unrealistic standards of body image and appearance that cause so many children and adults alike to feel anxious about their looks. His six minute speech, and response to a question from the chair of the judges, was maturely structured, thoughtful and sensitively humorous. Esmée Eva, as the Chairperson, introduced the team with her usual wide, winning, welcoming smile and both she and Proposer of the Vote of Thanks Zuzanna Ozon (who shared a very moving personal testimony) charmed the judges and audience throughout.

Having enjoyed the Year 10 performance immensely, I arrived at the Hall just as the three Juniors were taking the podium in front of a huge crowd of Rotarians, parents, teachers and participating students. Murray Robinson warmed up the crown with a very witty metaphor and by wishing his embarrassed mum happy birthday, then Tobias Cooper impressed everyone with his challenging speech about the Refugee Crisis. His personal experience of refugee camps gave him highly unusual insights into the plight of people in such camps as the Calais Jungle and he exhorted the audience to “choose love” – a very brave, touching and impressive conclusion. Saad Yousaf rounded off proceedings by summing up what a great event the Rotary Club’s annual competition is; for affording young people the opportunity to shine and to be heard.

I am always so impressed by all the students at these events. It is just a bonus to be able to say that you have won the competition; they are all winners anyway. The judges said just that as they gave their feedback to the participants and awarded the very generous prizes and certificates. It is amazing that the St. Augustine’s students won in their very first competition (not so amazing when you consider the time they put into writing their speeches and then rehearsing and developing them) and I wish them the very best in the next round of the competition, which will take place in York, a week on Friday. Wish them luck!

Mr Steven Brindle