NORTH BAY—A simple slip of the finger and a typographical error led to the Island Royal Canadian Legion Public Speaking contestants arriving a day late for the March 22 District H Zone championships—but on the bright side the unfortunate slip led the Island contestants to gain an automatic bye into the April 5 District H3 competition at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 445 in Callendar.
“It was an unfortunate error and most of the parents were pretty understanding about it,” said District H Youth Education Chairman Steve Laroque, who owned up to the typo. “I felt letting all the competitors move on was the fairest way to resolve the issue for everyone.”
The Royal Canadian Legion Public Speaking competition begins in the early part of the year with students from Grade 1 through 12 competing at their local Legion branches and working their way up to a provincial competition held on the first Saturday in May.
The provincial competition wins come with some nice prize purses. Grades 1 through 3 speak for three to five minutes and can haul home $200 for a first place gold and $75 for a silver. Grades 4 to 6 also speak for three to five minutes and a first place gold nets $300 and second hauls in $100. Grades 7 to 9 also speak for three to five minutes and receive $500 for a first place gold and $150 for a silver. Grade 10 to 12 up the speaking time to five to seven minutes and win $1,000 for a first place gold and $200 for a silver.
Winning takes a lot more than a handful of minutes, however, and each contestant puts in countless hours honing their delivery and polishing their prose.
“The kids work very hard at this and it takes a lot of commitment on the part of their parents too,” said Mr. Laroque. “I think it is a great opportunity for kids these days to work on skills where there are not a lot of opportunities these days.”
Winners from Manitoulin who will be going on to the District H competition are Alexis French of Manitoulin Secondary School, Grade 10/11 (Branch 177 Little Current), who took first place on the topic of ‘Identity Theft;’ Grace Duncanson of Central Manitoulin Public School, Grade 8 (Branch 177 Little Current), who placed first in the Intermediate category and whose speech topic was ‘Hit me with your best shot: My Vaccinophobia;’ and Patrick McCann of Charles C. McLean, a Grade 2 student (Branch 514 Western Manitoulin), who placed first in the Primary category with the topic of ‘Being 7.’