Maxim Meddah gives an account of the annual TY House Speech Competition:

On Sunday 29th September, the annual Transition Year House Speeches took place once again in St Columba’s College. Each house was represented by two pupils. The topic the pupils could choose was up to them. Some were serious and some were humorous. The contestants were marked out of ten points for delivery and content and five points on lack of reliance on notes. They each spoke for three to five minutes.  

Glen was represented by Antoine Dulauroy who spoke about how Astrophysics can change your view on the world and Akin Babajide who spoke about why the idea of world peace is naive. Gwynn was represented by Tom Casey who spoke about why the earth is flat and Peter Taylor who spoke about anxiety. Stackallan was represented by Marcus O’Connor speaking about the profound message of Kung Fu Panda and Andrew Maguire on the importance of team sports. Edna Johnston spoke about being a twin and Amalia Falkenhayn speaking about being tall represented Iona. Representing Hollypark were Emma Hinde talking about ‘the power of words’ and Caroline Hager speaking about Flying.  

The event started with the announcement of the first speaker Edna Johnston by the evening’s MC, Guy Fitzgibbon. Edna then commenced with her speech which was about being a twin. She talked about her least favourite response to people finding out she has a twin which was “Oh I know a set of twins” and her favourite response being when people look in shock with their mouths wide open. In retrospect, her speech was really about being her own person and that she and her sister are not one and the same person but two individuals that merely look alike. The next speech was by Antoine Dulauroy. He talked about the two different ways someone’s view of the world could be affected by astrophysics, showing us how big the universe really is. The first point was that you feel tiny in such a huge world and that nothing matters. The second being seizing that feeling of feeling small and meaningless and use it as a pretext to trying scary and challenging new things. In the end, he mentioned his dream, or rather his objective of becoming an astrophysicist.

The third speech, a humorous one, was given by Tom Casey and he talked about the earth being flat with the example of a grapefruit. His first reason was that if the earth was round an aeroplane which flies from the northern hemisphere to the southern one should arrive upside down, which quite evidently does not. He also reasoned that all the water would pour down the face of the earth if it were round. His speech entertained the audience well and by the end of his speech the whole room was filled with laughter. Next up was Amalia Falkenhayn talking about being tall. She started her speech with a quote from a recently released Netflix movie called Tall Girl. She compared how the movie portrayed being a tall girl and how it really is. But what her speech was really about was that you should feel comfortable in your body and be confident about something you simply cannot change like your height. The next speech was about the power of words and was held by Emma Hinde. She began with reciting a fact about bird species being extinct in the Amazonian rainforest sounding quite convincing but then telling us that that was not true. She then continued her speech about how someone can sound convincing spreading lies and how powerful that could be and then talked about how these powerful words could also be used to comfort people and make them feel good. The next speech was by Andrew Maguire who talked about the importance of team sports. He talked about his first days in the school not knowing anyone and not being able to make new friends during class because he was not allowed to talk but then proceeding to the hockey pitch and finally being able to talk to someone. He talked about how the friends he made on the hockey pitch that day later came to be his best friends. He talked about how team sports binds people together and strengthens relationships.

Then Caroline Hager talked about how she has always dreamed of flying an aeroplane, not the big commercial airline planes but the four-man acrobatic planes in which she could do loops and nosedives. Marcus O’Connor followed, and talked about the profound message of KungFu Panda. The message here was that there is no secret ingredient, no quick way to earn success and that you should always believe in yourself and focus on being your best self and not someone else and that you should believe in others and that they can change for the better. The next speech about a controversial topic was by Akin Babajide. He talked about why the idea of world peace is naive. He talked about how human society is based on conflict and that it is a primal part of us we cannot simply ignore. He said that for millennia humans have been at war and millions of people have died because of this but yet we still continue waging war on each other with no end in sight simply ending one war does not mean peace it just means a temporary agreement to a ceasefire. He said that because war has always been there that it is impossible to keep away. The last speech was by Peter Taylor who talked about anxiety. He talked about the effects this disorder can have on a person and how it can affect their life, and how some of the most courageous people have the highest level anxiety and as an example, he mentioned his friend who is one of the bravest people he knows having crippling anxiety.

While the judges were deciding on the placements of the contestants there was a very entertaining performance of Irish dancing performed by TJ Hopkins. When the placements were announced it was announced that there would be a tie for second place. Both Tom Casey and Peter Taylor were awarded this position. First place was given to Akin Babajide. Thank you to Ms Kilfeather, Raphaela Ihouma and Reverend Owen for their excellent adjudication of the event.