The Perse School

Youth Speaks at the Perse

10 Dec 2013

The debating and public speaking clubs here at the Perse have taken part in three major debating events in recent weeks – the Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ competition – at both Middle School and Sixth Form levels -and the Debating Matters competition. We are pleased to announce that the Perse team came an outstanding second in the Middle School Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ competition – well done. Although the team (Daniel Adamson, Arian Jamasb, Dylan Spielman, Rohan Vithayathil)  did not secure places in the next rounds of the Debating Matters competition, all of the students performed brilliantly under pressure.

Congratulations to all of those involved! Some of the students that have taken part in these events have shared their experiences below.


Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ competition – Middle School

The Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ competition  (Middle School level) was held at Sawston Village College on 19 November. The Perse team, comprising Ollie Cantrill, Bella Forster-Lewis and Christopher Norwood performed fantastically, securing second place. Christopher summarises the event below:

“It was roughly four weeks ago that Miss Bellamy came up to Ollie Cantrill, Bella Forster-Lewis and myself and talked to us about the competition. We had spoken as a team before in the junior round of this very same event and thus we were all eager to give it another go.

The first hurdle we had to overcome was the title and thus subject of our speech. We trawled the internet, the news, and every possible place where we could look for a title. The possibilities were endless, but we eventually decided on one very close to public speaking’s English-based roots: “What is the place of literature in our society?” For us, this was a fascinating topic as it ties together various elements that we all wanted to speak on, most notably the passion for literature in the world around us – something that we all felt needed addressing.

One thing that always strikes me about the Rotary competition format is that it is very specific, and thus the refining of one’s speech is of the utmost importance. This year, due to our reasonable previous experience, we hit the mark early on and around a week before the competition it looked at least as if two of the speeches were very nearly ready. Mine, however, was going to take several more lunchtimes to sort out. We all had to have a great level of polish in order to succeed in the competition. One can afford no slips or flat areas; it must look like one has read the speech both a thousand times and for the first time simultaneously when on stage. Thus, the “refining” does take a while. We all worked constantly that week, lunchtime after lunchtime, so eventually, admittedly rather late, we were ready.

Finally, on the night of the performance, we were ready, having only finished the final drafts of our speeches that lunchtime. On the way to Sawston we sat silently in the car, reading our speeches. The tension was immense; the moment was here.

We spoke excellently in the competition, paying tribute to the time we had spent rehearsing. We received an individual mention in the judges’ report, but sadly only came a noble second.  The winning group was an excellent team from Sawston Village College.

I would like to thank Miss Bellamy for organising the event for all of us and Sawston Village College for hosting it. It was truly enjoyable and I think I can speak for all three of us when I say that Ollie, Bella and I will be really looking forward to any opportunity to participate in the higher levels of this competition  in the future. It is a wonderful experience.”

Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ competition – Middle School/Sixth Form

We hosted the Middle School and Sixth Form round of the Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ on 27 November. Although the team (Sylvia De Luca, George Lewin Smith and Christopher Norwood) was unplaced, the pupils recieved some very strong, positive feedback from the judges, after what was a very tough decision from them. George Lewin Smith, a member of the Perse team talks about his experiences:

“I thought we all did very well and had a good shot. Our only criticisms were that we were too polished and over sophisticated?… I felt we all did a good job and everyone was impressed with Chris (main speaker) and enjoyed my anecdotes. Sylvia was criticised for not fully answering the title of her talk even though I thought she was excellent and lively in her delivery and we all supposedly lost spontaneity. It was a very close decision apparently: the managing partner from Mills and Reeve (judge) came up to us afterwards congratulating us, detailing how impressed he was with our professionalism and how we had better speaking skills than many of his lawyers. All in all, a disappointing loss but we all did a great job and I am looking forward to hopefully winning next year. We were also ironically questioned on maybe over preparing for the evening, much to our surprise.”

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