Spotlight on Public Speaking

Centre stage shone on a dozen Grade 7 and 8 students this week as part of the 21st Annual Grade 7 and 8 Speaking Competition at St. Michael’s College School.  The competitors tested their nerves delivering speeches in front of their peers --- the entire Grade 7 and 8 student body of more than 200 students.

Matthew Pagano, ’92, Core Intermediate Department Head, English and Core teacher, provides a little history on this important annual tradition:

1. How did this competition come to be?
The competition started during the first year of the Grade 7 and 8 program in 1998. The English Department felt that it was necessary to highlight the importance of developing and showcasing students’ oratory skills. It has been a great success!

2. What are competitors evaluated on?
The list of criterion includes: the introduction, body and conclusion of the speech, use of language, body language, eye contact, clarity, topic /message (clarity, appropriateness and adaption to audience).

3. How many competitors?
12 speakers, six from Grade 7 and 8 respectively. It is exciting for a Grade 7 student to win, and that was what happened last year as Aiden Roode took home the championship. He was on stage again this year to defend his title. 

4. In what specific ways are Grade 7 and 8 students prepared in-class for the Intermediate Public Speaking Competition?
Over the course of the last month, Grade 7 and 8 students have prepared for the class competition and the wider department competition by doing the following activities:  Short impromptu class activities and video rants in the style of Rick Mercer. Grade 8 young men mastered the art of reading short stories out loud by adding voice dynamics and emphasis. Both Grade 7 and 8 students use the acronyms SPEV and GEEP to help guide their public speaking. SPEV (Speed, Pause, Volume, Emotion) and GEEP (Gestures, Expressiveness, Eye Contact and Posture)

5. Who are the judges?
The esteemed judges are: Mr. David Lee (Acting co-Principal), Ms. Nora Campbell (retired Librarian), Ms. Sandy Gary (current Librarian), Ms. Norah Higgins-Burnham (Guidance Counsellor), and Ms. Muki Mandic (retired teacher).

6. Are there any Deep Learning approaches that you or other English Department staff are undertaking with respect to writing a speech and public speaking?
As a department, we are committed to ensuring that students learn the foundations of effective public speaking and become aware of opportunities that exist in their extended communities to utilize these foundational skills. As part of the unit, Grade 7 students were given the task of dramatizing popular urban legends. They created a detailed plan of how they would use their voices and body language to entertain their classmates. Grade 8 students leveraged digital technology by creating video rants that they shared online. They worked independently and within small collaborative groups to perfect their message and delivery.

7. Where do the winners go next?
Usually, the winners head to the Canadian Legion Competition. Unfortunately, this year the Legion changed their championship date, so we are not able to attend. We'll go back next year. It is quite an honour to win the event here.


And the winner is...

Watch the winning speech from Shea, Grade 8.