The Girls Grammar Oratory competition holds a special place in our school’s history. Since 1911 – over a century ago – the Girls Grammar curriculum emphasised the need for young women to be able to communicate their thoughts in a confident and compelling manner. Today, the oratory competition is not only a symbol of a long-held legacy, it is an important rite of passage for those girls who wish to pursue a prefect-ship.
In the competition, students enter themselves and are required to write an original two to three minute speech of a topic of their choosing. Speeches range from comical, to critical; from insightful to indignant and from those that scathingly review the horrors of life to, those that brim with hope and heart.
On the surface, the oratory competition seems simple. Choose a topic, write a speech, present said speech. But those of you who have undertaken the challenge know just how daunting the task can be. The difficulty of this competition is rooted in the irrefutable truth that to compete is an act of courage. No matter the motivation for entering, and there are many, the competition demands the same of every competitor – to develop an original thought, to find the words within yourself to translate the thought and finally, to share your ideas in your voice. But it doesn’t end there, then you wait for the people you present to to say something back. Sometimes, they respond with laughter at the joke you wrote, other times you hear a rustle from the adjudicators who are judging your performance, your ideas and ultimately, you. It’s the reason that many of us despise having to speak in front of a group. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, to speak in front of a group of people is to make a public declaration of the value of you and your ideas. To orate is to plant two feet firmly on the ground, glare into the eyes of your audience and say, ‘I deserve to be heard’. On behalf of the adjudicators: competitors of 2022: we heard you. Whether you were trying to argue about the benefits of being short or tall or telling us the top five most embarrassing moments of your life: we heard you.
Congratulations to all participants who made the adjudicator's decision a difficult one.
The prize winners of the 2022 Rockhampton Girls Grammar School Oratory Competition are:
First Place - Hadasshah Akop
While the title of her speech, ‘Pencils are better than pens’, had us anticipating a light-hearted and comedic speech, we were pleasantly surprised by her extended metaphor which likened our needs as people to the characteristics of pencils. Thought-provoking, vulnerable and heartfelt, Hadassah’s speech was presented with confident humility which resulted in a unanimous decision from the adjudicators.
Second Place - Claudia Heffer
In a somewhat controversial speech, Claudia enthusiastically presented a case for the exaltation of Shrek 2 as the best Shrek movie.
Third Place - Abigail Cutting
Crocs were never a shoe option I had considered – until Abigail’s speech about why everyone needs a pair of crocs.
Highly Commended - Emilia Heilig and Leah Bertram
Emilia’s speech was about car seating and how your choice of seat is indicative of your personality, while Leah’s speech tackled the hard-hitting question: is cereal a soup?
Encouragement Award - Hayley Roche, Josie McLaughlan and Lucy Neaton
Hayley’s speech about indecisiveness resonated with us all a little too much, Josie presented a very compelling case for why all kids should read Harry Potter, and Lucy emphasised the need for genuine attention and care for mental health concerns.
Individuality Award - Olivia Hoare
Olivia’s speech confronted the societally shared insecurities that plague us about our appearance – in particular our faces. Her unique perspective challenged us to view our faces – not against beauty standards – but as a record of the journeys of our ancestors and as a roadmap of the rich and vibrant experiences of our own lives. Her speech, and its sentiments, lingered with the adjudicators for quite some time after it was presented.
Teacher (English, Humanities)