06 Feb A rewarding evening at the Rotary Youth Speaks competition
Written by Omonigho and Andreea – Year 8 student reporters
On Friday the 25th of January 2019, 6 courageous Year 8 students went to Bablake Senior School to represent Whitley Academy in the Rotary Youth Speaks competition (with the help of our devoted Mrs Nguyen). Eve, Lola, Ava, Andreea, Lara and Omonigho all competed in this battle; and were of course against each other.
For your information, the opportunity is given annually to Whitley Academy pupils by the Rotary Club of Coventry Jubilee. It is part of Rotary International, which began in 1905 in Chicago, and has been helping under-privileged people around the world to have better lives. We were all slightly nervous, as most of us had never experienced the feeling of being at such a prestigious school. But with all of our hearts racing, and with only 5 minutes until the event started, we would pull ourselves together as we were about to open up to the crowd.
At 6:30pm, Mr William Parkinson (part of the Rotary Club of Coventry) welcomed us to the competition. Other teams, including ours, were feeling the heat as we were all about to speak and debate. A few moments after, the first team, who represented Bablake School, talked passionately about how autonomous cars could improve road safety. The Speaker from Bablake School gave the audience some staggering facts of fatal road accidents. Globally nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes every year, 1.3 million – gone from this world, forever. The team believed the arrival of autonomous cars could help to reduce the loss of life. How true!
It was then time for the Whitley Academy Blue Team, who talked about ‘perfection’ and how it has affected people in today’s society. Their own topic was : ‘Perfection –The Front Cover’. As Eve was the Speaker, she eloquently talked about people’s perception of perfection, how the pressure of being ‘perfect’ affected people, especially teenage girls. You could hear a pin drop in the audience the moment Eve mentioned a popular Chinese leg lengthening procedure, often used by girls. It was surely very painful, all done for their personal concept of perfection. Lola, Ava and Eve brought a glint to people’s eyes in the audience with the amount of effort and passion they showed in their speeches. The team even managed to entertain the audience, getting some chuckles from their jokes. Well-done Team!
Later, Barr’s Hill School and Community College made us think about animal welfare post Brexit. There was such a diverse range of topics debated, and each team talked about them very passionately. After a short break with a nice selection of cookies, tea, coffee, juice and many other fresh delights provided by the ‘Rotarians’, we all got back to the theatre for the second part of the event.
In this second part of the evening, Whitley Academy’s second team delivered their speeches about ‘The Power of Your Tongue’. The room was filled with suspense as Omonigho, Lara and Andreea shared with the audience the impact that spoken words had on people’s lives, especially teenagers. Later on one of the judges reflected that Omonigho’s speech would stay with him for some time. It was indeed very powerful!
“Words can stick to someone like a tattoo, it never goes away. It rebounds in that person’s head again and again” – Omonigho.
At 8:45pm, while the judges were making a final decision, Mr Michael Hammon, President of the Rotary Club of Coventry, talked to us about some of the projects the ‘Rotarians’ have done across the world, and he thanked us all for being participants of the evening. Moments later, we were all plunged into suspense again as the judges shared the results with us. Our school won two of the prizes! Eve was the Best Speaker in the competition, and her Blue Team won the Runners-up award. The winning team, Blue Coat Church of England School, would be going to the next round.
At the end of the evening, we had a big smile on our faces. Even though we did not win first place, we all had a great time listening to each school delivering their speeches, and we really valued the judges giving remarks on the presentations, and their valuable pieces of advice. We want to thank the Coventry ‘Rotarians’ for giving us a platform to talk about topics of our interest.
“We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity” – Donald Trump