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By Carolyn McLaughlin - Posted on 22 February 2012

Pupils from Highclare School have won the local round of the Youth Speaks schools’ public speaking competition that has again been run by the Rotary Club of Wylde Green.

Youth Speaks is a competition for young people between the ages of 11 and 18 organised by Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland. It is designed to help young people develop confidence in their own ability to stand up and speak in front of an audience. 

Participants took part in the Senior Competition from Highclare School and Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls. 

Highclare School pupils spoke first about ‘Toxic childhood’. Their discussion centered around how ‘childhood’ has changed over the decades. Sophie Kay opened for the school and acted as Chairperson, followed by Lauren Cox as the main speaker. Martha Davis gave the vote of thanks. It was a subject spoken about with conviction, delivered in a manner to get everyone listening and thinking about the topic. They were accompanied by their team supervisor Jennifer Thornton.

Accompanied by Steven Millman as the school’s Team Supervisor. Claire Guest was the Chairperson for Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls. Their chosen subject was ‘How the media affects our lives’. The argument was about just how much we are influenced by what is in the media. Arub Syed was the main speaker, followed by Kerry Bird proposing the vote of thanks. The team worked well together.

The panel of judges for the competition comprised Nigel Price, Associate Director of Birmingham Metropolitan College; Carl Coleman, English teacher at Castle Vale College and Carolyn McLaughlin, President, Wylde Green Rotary Club. 

Commenting as Chairman of the panel after the competition, Nigel Price said how very well each of the teams had performed. The judges had been particularly impressed with the articulate manner of delivery and the persuasive arguments they had heard. He announced that the final scores were very close but the Senior Competition winners came from Highclare School.

This year’s District Final will take place in Knowle next month. The winners of that competition will then go forward to the Regional Competition, and the winners of that competition will go forward to the National Final. 

‘Pupils at Highclare Senior School always value this opportunity to show their skills in Public Speaking, which is a popular activity at the school.   The Rotary Club of Wylde Green have been very generous in giving their time to organise this event’ said Mrs Margaret Viles, Head of Highclare School.

Local event organiser Peter Weston, himself a Past President of the Wylde Green Rotary Club, commented upon how very well everyone had performed on the night, and that the performances reflected many months of hard work within the schools, adding:

‘Preparation and practice is what it’s all about.’

Carolyn McLaughlin, President of the Rotary Club commented:

‘All of the contestants had obviously worked very hard preparing for the competition. They were all well versed in their chosen subjects and a great credit to their schools. Youth Speaks is one way that Rotary seeks to work with young people, supporting them in their development and self confidence as they progress through school and into their chosen careers.’ 

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