Innovative competition based on primary-secondary mentoring

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Year 6 student Joseph Sullivan, from St Anthony’s primary, Clovelly, declared the winner of the inaugural Botany-Randwick Public Speaking Competition. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Year 6 student Joseph Sullivan, from St Anthony’s primary, Clovelly, declared the winner of the inaugural Botany-Randwick Public Speaking Competition. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Organisers say a regional public speaking competition has helped nurture greater mentoring skills between primary and secondary Catholic schools in eastern Sydney.

This year 42 students from 14 primary schools competed in the inaugural Botany-Randwick Public Speaking Competition with Year 6 student from St Anthony’s primary, Clovelly, Joseph Sullivan, declared the winner, arguing that “The internet has caused more problems than it has solved”.

In his winning speech, Joseph reflected upon some of the problems children face including cyber-bullying and becoming too addicted to on-screen devices.

“The collaboration with the primary and secondary schools is significant, so we can build this into the English curriculum to enhance all the students’ public speaking skills.”

The topic was particularly relevant during the lengthy lockdown when most of the competition was delivered via Zoom, with around 500 people watching the grand final.

“As the winner was announced, the internet connected at my house ironically dropped out and I had a lot of people texting me saying ‘Joe, you’ve won’. It actually ended up helping me emphasise my case that the internet hasn’t solved all our problems”.

A keen debater since Year 4, Joseph said while it was challenging presenting his speech online via ZOOM rather than in person, but he was thrilled to win.

Joseph’s school principal, Ms Kym Whyte, second from the left, said one of the benefits of the public speaking competition was the involvement of older mentors from secondary schools. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Joseph’s school principal, Ms Kym Whyte-Southcombe, second from the left, said one of the benefits of the public speaking competition was the involvement of older mentors from secondary schools. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“It was a huge honour and my school really supported me. The hard work I put into it really paid off when I won the competition”, he said.

Joseph’s school principal, Ms Kym Whyte-Southcombe said one of the benefits of the public speaking competition was the involvement of older mentors from secondary schools in the area including Brigidine College in Randwick and Champagnat College in Pagewood.

“The collaboration with the primary and secondary schools is significant, so we can build this into the English curriculum to enhance all the students’ public speaking skills”, Ms Whyte-Southcombe said.

“As the winner was announced, the internet connected at my house ironically dropped out and I had a lot of people texting me saying ‘Joe, you’ve won’.”

“The secondary school students worked with the primary school students to develop their skills in putting a speech together and developing skills in gauging the reaction of an audience and reading the audience”, she added.

The grand final was adjudicated by three local members of parliament- Marjorie O’Neill (Coogee), Michael Daley (Maroubra) and Ron Hoenig (Heffron).

Ms Whyte-Southcombe said she hopes the competition can now become an annual tradition.

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