Public Speaking and Debate: The Championship

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In golf, it is simply called ‘The Open.’  In tennis, it is simply ‘Wimbledon.’  On Sunday 1st October ‘The Championship’ etched its name in Ratcliffe stone.  The Public Speaking Championship stood at the fulcrum of the school community with a backdrop scored by classically trained musicians and artists displaying etchings and oils on canvas.

Six Students stood alone facing a Harry Potter themed refectory dressed in Candelabras, fairy lights and long, anciently stripped tables.  At the centre of the fulcrum, beneath the House flags of De Lisle, Arundel, Emery and Leetham, auspiciously sat the Ratcliffe Cup grinning in silver earnestly awaiting its Champion.  Alone, Years 10 – 13 students from St Martin’s, De Lisle and Ratcliffe College spoke to a packed house on the topics of Luck favouring the bold; Media represents women as objects; Dishonesty gets results; Life after Brexit; and Social Media is not Social.

Having drawn straws to inform their particular turn at the microphone, alone the students swept to the podium to face an eager audience and a discerning panel of adjudicators including an argumentative Barrister, an Examiner of Drama and a holy man, our own Father President, retired, Ted Mullen.

Each of the subsequent student speeches further elevated the audience, almost as if under a Dumbledore spell, with articulated viewpoints including a humorous  oration from St Martin’s Joseph Warren, positioning US president Trump as a liar.  While De Lisle’s Megan Crothers presented with poise and as a content rich young woman, decrying the media’s treatment of women as objects.  Bella Christon of Saint Martin’s showed sizzling stage craft, despite the use of limited notes.  The recently crowned Ratcliffe House Public Speaking champion,

Miles Dunne, lit up the room with a free flowing, personable and adrenaline fuelled speech on being bold.  The day, however, could only belong to Ratcliffe College’s Year 10 student, Dalila Watson, who spoke royally to young and old generations alike.  Miss Watson stood still.  She lifted her eyes and voice and rhythmically called out social media for ‘silly selfies’ and a generation that is ‘locked in, shut down and sadly placid.’  The contemporary topic of social media had the audience on the chair’s edge, enchanted by the clarity of diction, apt vocabulary and contemporary imagery.  Dalila Watson’s four-minute speech presented a unique rhythmical meter that drove drew gasps from the audience, verse after verse, until the Ratcliffe Cup was securely in her hands.

Mr Benjamin is the Head of Public Speaking and Debate and Teacher of English at Ratcliffe College.