Island public speakers to compete at Legion zone competition next month

Front row, from left, Island public speaking winners Aspen Debassige, Thomas Green and Nevaeh Harper, second row, Darci Debassige, Owen Duncanson, Jocelyn Kuntsi and Jared Cortes, back row, MacKenzie Cortes, Pierre Debassige, Amber Wahl and Ethan Closs. Missing from photo is Brooke Gibeault.

LITTLE CURRENT—The top youth public speakers from across Manitoulin gathered recently to compete for a spot to represent the Island at the Legion zone public speaking competition in Onaping Falls in March.

Comrade Peewee Oliver, a life member of the Little Current Legion Branch 177 and past president, began the Island competition, welcoming the speakers and guests.

The judges included Irene Callaghan, Wendy Gauthier and Melissa Peters.

The large audience included may parents and grandparents, in addition to supportive community members.

Students competing included youth from Little Current Public School (LCPS), Central Manitoulin Public School (CMPS), Assiginack Public School (APS) and Lakeview School in M’Chigeeng.

The speech topics ranged from dolphins, snowmen, being clumsy, life as the middle child, the moon space trip, the Big Bang Theory television show, snowboarding and grandpas.

The winning speakers were TJ (Thomas) Green for his speech ‘Formula One Racing’ in the primary division, Owen Duncanson for his speech ‘Scared Witless’ in the junior division and Amber Wahl for her speech ‘Blackflies’ in the intermediate division.

In the primary division, Aspen Debassige placed second, while Nevaeh Harper came in third and Brookie Gibeault received an honourable mention.

Jared Cortes came in second in the junior division, Jocelyn Kuntsi in third and Darci Debassige received an honourable mention.

Runners up in the intermediate division were Ethan Closs in second place, MacKenzie Cortes in third and an honourable mention went to Pierre Debassige.

TJ is a Grade 3 student at LCPS and it was his first time winning a public speaking contest.

“I like to watch racing with my grandpa,” explained TJ of how he chose his speech subject. “He got me into it, but it really interests me. In my speech I talk about how much the cars cost, the teams, the types of cars, how fast they go and how it got started—I learned a lot.”

TJ said he’s nervous about competing at the zone competition, but that he’s “pretty ready.” He will even be giving up hockey playoffs in order to compete in Onaping Falls.

Grade 6 CMPS student Owen is no stranger to public speaking in Grade 3 he made it to the zone competition for his speech on ‘Why a boy needs a dog.’

This year he chose the topic of ‘fear’ for his speech.

“It’s just a topic that I connect with,” Owen told The Expositor. “I have a lot of experience with it—I’m scared of monsters, heights and tall waterslides.”

In his speech, Owen talked about personal fears, how to overcome fears and discussed common and uncommon fears.

“There is this one fear people have of having peanut butter stuck to the top of your mouth and the fear of work is called ergophobia,” explained Owen.

When asked if he is nervous for the next round he replied, “The thing about speeches is, if I can connect to the subject, I can memorize it easily and it comes a lot more naturally. I’m nervous, but I have been practicing a lot in front of my parents and I’m ready.”

Amber is also a veteran public speaker, competing since Grade 2. The Grade 7 CMPS student has made it to zone competition before, as well as the semi-finals.

“For me, I enjoy being in front of people and expressing my thoughts and feelings with people,” said Amber of public speaking. “I chose my topic ‘blackflies’ this year because of where I live, the Slash. They are a pretty big annoyance and we do some pretty hilarious things to avoid being eaten. My mom and brother walk around in head to toe screen suits and my dad and I cover ourselves in bug spray.”

“I always try and do my best and however far that takes me is good for me,” said Amber of being selected as the Island intermediate winner. “I’m a little nervous about the zone competition, but I know what to expect and I think a little nerves are good for you.”

TJ, Owen and Amber will be competing at the Royal Canadian Legion Zone Public Speaking competition in Onaping Falls on March 1.