Manitoulin Island students excel at zone public speaking competition

Grade 7 Central Manitoulin Public School student Amber Wahl shows off her first place medal and certificate from the Royal Canadian Legion Zone Public Speaking Competition this past weekend.

Two youth move on to district round in Blind River

ONAPING FALLS—Manitoulin youth who competed at the Onaping Falls Royal Canadian Legion Zone Public Speaking Competition this past weekend fared well, with two of the four Islanders placing first and moving on to the district competition in Blind River at the end of the month.

At the intermediate level, Amber Wahl, and at the senior level, Alexis French, both placed first. Competing in the junior level division, Owen Duncanson placed second and primary competitor TJ Green received a certificate.

Grade 7 Central Manitoulin Public School student Amber is a veteran public speaker who has been competing since Grade 2. Amber has made it to zone competitions before, as well as to the semi-finals.

Her confidence and entertaining speech on ‘blackflies’ won both the audience and judges over.

“It went really well,” Amber told The Expositor on Monday. “I was a little nervous because there were a lot of good speakers but it was great hearing them and I learned a lot and had a lot of fun.”

Grade 11 Manitoulin Secondary School student Alexis is also no stranger to public speaking and was last year’s provincial winner in her division for her speech on identify theft over the Internet.

“I think what makes a good public speaker is being able to improv,” explained Alexis, who resides in Sheguiandah. “If you can stand up in front of a crowd and have a general idea of what you’re talking about, plus if you are able to improv, you’ll be fine if you forget a line.”

Alexis contributes her public speaking success to her ability to express herself in a variety of ways and being comfortable in front of an audience.

“I use my hands, make various facial expressions and just generally have fun with the audience,” said Alexis. “It’s all about making the audience enjoy your speech and making them laugh.”

Alexis’ speech this year was called ‘Why It Sucks to Be a Teenage Girl.’

“I talk about body image and defects like body odour and pimples,” explained Alexis. “I touch on true self love and how teenage girls go to great lengths to make themselves look ‘beautiful’ using makeup and hair products to impress boys, but at the end of the day, guys don’t even notice because they are a different species and I also talk about drama; drama with your mom at home and with your school friends over silly things.”

As for going all the way to the winner’s podium again this year, Alexis said she thinks she has a shot.

“I think I have a good chance,” concluded Alexis, “but there were some amazing speeches last year. I’m just very excited to see the competition and hear some great speeches this year.”

Alexis and Amber will move on to the Royal Canadian Legion District Public Speaking Competition in Blind River on Saturday, March 28.