The students of Richard Ishmael Secondary did their school proud yesterday as they staged an upset win against President’s College in Impromptu Speaking.
Hosted by the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), the Impromptu Speaking competition is an annual event.
Bebi Wharton, manager of the bank’s Regent Street branch said the aim of the competition is to encourage the development of public speaking skills in students. She noted that students were being allowed to gain confidence in the face of crowds and they were also fostering the ability to marshal their thoughts quickly.
The students had one minute from the time they drew their topics to formulate their arguments, a situation that forces them to think on their feet. They would then be called upon to present their arguments to the audiences, all without the option of making notes.
Such was the case as the competition which began with 16 participating schools came down to the final two contenders.
President’s College was represented by three young ladies, Christine Richardson, Juanita Beejaimal and Vonette Peters, while Richard Ishmael Secondary sported the lone male on the stage, Lewins Langellier, along with his teammates, Suella Ford and Loreal Bunbury.
Both teams presented what were judged to be very good speeches and the competition was close, considering that the final point standings were 664 to 658 in favour of Richard Ishmael Secondary.
Head Judge, Dr. Joyce Jonas, of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies at the University of Guyana, noted that the students did a remarkable job but fell down in a number of places. She lamented the lack of originality, saying that there needs to be a broadening of horizons in the perspectives of young people.
Dr. Jonas stressed that there must be more reading and considering the reaches of the internet today there are very few reasons to be uninformed. The combined judges’ opinion said that the grammar and vocabulary of the students needed work, and that they needed to restrict their use of vernacular which was a bit of an issue.
On the positive side, it was noted that the students used the rhetorical question to great effect, called upon personal experiences where possible and argued clear positions on their topics rather than wavering about the issues.
Of special note was the performance of Loreal Bunbury, third speaker of the Richard Ishmael Secondary Team. The topic she pulled was just one word … littering. Ms. Bunbury however, used her three minutes to make a presentation that evoked the audience’s wholesale approval. It was also a presentation that earned her the prize of best speaker in the competition.
After the finals of the Impromptu Speaking competition there was an added treat for the audience. Those talented speakers whose teams did not make it into the competition but who themselves displayed remarkable skill were recalled to compete amongst themselves for the title of Best Speaker.
Those speakers were N. Griffith of Bishops’ High School, Ms. Nadine Louis of School of the Nations, Esther Osbourne of St. Joseph High School and Ashmini Singh of Mae’s Secondary School.
Ms. Nadine Louis emerged the victor of that brief competition, according to Dr. Jonas, because of her exemplary pronunciation and use of Standard English as opposed to descending into vernacular.
Following the competitions, Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony took to the stage and commended the students on their efforts. He encouraged them to not let this competition be the end of their road. They should go back to their schools and participate in other such activities and join clubs such as debating societies. On that note, he said that more needs to be done to reenergize these co-curricular activities in the schools of Guyana. Teachers and parents were not forgotten as he pointed out that it is through their efforts that their children are able to achieve such heights.
He was also generous in his praise of GBTI and highlighted another community contribution of theirs which was showing remarkable benefits already. He was at the time referring to the Giant Sloth Exhibit at the National Museum. He pointed out that where the museum used to see some 25 visitors a day, they are now recording approximately 200 visitors on weekdays and double that on Saturdays.
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