Three Island speakers advance to area-level competition

Four Manitoulin Island public school speakers fared very well at the Royal Canadian Legion District competition, last Sunday. In photo is left to right April Torkopolous, Amara Wilson Zegil, Amber Brizuela, and Mason Leighton. Photo by Terri-Lynn Leighton

MAGNETAWAN—Manitoulin’s ‘A-team’ is going on to compete at the Royal Canadian Legion’s area public speaking competition in New Liskeard on Saturday, April 6.

Three speakers from the Island—Amber Brizuela, primary; Amara Wilson-Zegil, junior and April Torkopoulos, senior—took first place in the district-level competition in Magnetawan on March 24 and will be moving up to the area level this coming Saturday. 

“It was a little hard, like usual,” said Amber, who once again drew lots of laughs for her speech on “Perry’s Cooking Mishaps.” Amber attends Central Manitoulin Public School and said she had been practicing a lot for this round.

“This last time I went, I didn’t use any speech cards. That was the first time I did that,” she said.

Up to the junior category, Amara presented her speech on the 1966 Batman television series.

“I wanted to tell people about the show because I really liked it when my dad introduced it to me,” the Charles C. McLean student said. Her father Mike Zegil introduced his kids to some of the shows he watched growing up; the original Batman series and movie soon became one of Amara’s favourites.

There is a conflict for Amara next weekend, though—she is playing in a three-on-three hockey tournament in Little Current that weekend and will have to miss a game for the trip to New Liskeard.

“Getting to share what my speech is about to other people is my favourite part,” she said.

Finally, in the senior division, Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS)’s April Torkopoulos rounds out Manitoulin’s ‘A-team.’ At both the local and zone public speaking competitions before this latest round, she spoke unopposed with her speech on the high cost of a post-secondary education.

April said she was looking forward to finally facing some opponents in the district competition in Magnetawan, but that did not prove to be the case—she sailed through to the district level unopposed once more.

“It could be the stress of this age with university and college coming up, maybe they don’t have the time and are focusing on getting good grades and scholarships, or maybe they just don’t hear about it enough,” said April when asked why she thought was unopposed once again. Public speaking, while mandatory in elementary school, is optional at the high-school level, another factor that may impact the turnout.

“This speech was better because the past couple rounds I’d been using cue cards. This time, even though I knew it was only me, I said I was going to prepare more and did it by memorization. This was one of my best times reading through it,” April said.

Gore Bay’s Mason Leighton also attended the Magnetawan competition and placed third in the intermediate division, earning him a medal for his speech about money. Unfortunately, only the top-ranked speakers were given the chance to advance to the area-level competition but Mason can be commended for making it this far. The area competition takes place in New Liskeard this Saturday, April 6.