Democracy, pandemics, talking and "cancel culture" were all topics selected by this year's youngsters taking part in the English-Speaking Union (ESU) Schools Public Speaking competition, which we were delighted to assist with.
For many years our Club has joined with the English-Speaking Union (ESU) to organise the East Kent and Canterbury final of the Schools Public Speaking competition at the Guildhall. Sadly, and for obvious reasons, the event could not take place as usual, and we were instead asked to join with the ESU Sussex and run the event by Zoom.
After much planning and paperwork, the competition took place on February 2nd and even with the bigger area, and with some dropping out at the last moment, only two schools finally took part. Nevertheless, Kent College and St Edmunds both entered two teams and the standard of the speakers was of the highest order.
Speakers topics were
- We are in the midst of two pandemics, one is a virus, one is a mental health crisis.
- Does talking better help us to think better?
- We should cancel “cancel culture”
- Is democracy in crisis?
All the speakers spoke with maturity and each and every one had carefully prepared their presentation. The questioners were all insightful and asked very relevant questions.
The judges, including Rotarians Brian Dobinson and Mary McGeary, had a very difficult task in selecting two teams to go through to the Regional Final. They eventually decided St Edmunds Team 2 and Kent College Team 2 should go forward.
The judges then went into breakout rooms with the schools for a more detailed appraisal.
Congratulations are due to all taking part and to those who helped make the competition a success in such difficult circumstances.
With thanks to our president, Alan Mepstead, for drafting this article.