On Tuesday night the seventh annual TY Modern Languages evening was held in the Big School Room. Eleven pupils presented in Spanish and French on topics such as El Flamenco, Le Tour de France, Las tribus de América and Les Jeux Olympiques. Leon Moreau also gave an outstanding recitation by heart in Bavarian of a childhood poem. During the interval we we enjoyed lusty renditions of the German and French national anthems.Many congratulations to the winner and recipient of the Alyn Stacey Cup, Sveva Ciofani, for her presentation on Pablo Escobar. In second place was Eliz Kolat (Les stéréotypes français) joint third were Oliver Townshend (Mis aventuras con Diego) and Sinead Cleary (Les fromages français). The standard overall was extremely high. Well done to all those who participated and made this such a successful event.
Over the last 20 years the College has proudly supported the Christmas Shoebox Appeal run by Team Hope. Two years ago we sent a record 260 gift filled wrapped shoeboxes to needy children in remote parts of Africa and war torn parts of Eastern Europe. These boxes were donated by pupils, staff & parents or were put together from fillers that were either donated or were purchased by proceeds from TY mini companies or the Tuck shop. Last year the figure was significantly lower and we would love to return to the heights of 2017.
The deadline for receipt of filled shoeboxes is after the half term break and it would be fantastic if pupils, parents, staff or indeed friends of the College would take the time over half term to make up a box.
If you want to make up a box wrap a shoebox (base & lid separate) in Christmas wrapping paper. Choose whether you want to make a box for a boy or girl and decide on the age category 2-4; 5-9; or 10-14. What goes in a box? Just follow the 4W rule!
If you are not able to wrap a box then please place all of the items in a bag and we will provide a wrapped box for you. If you have a lot of items lying around your home that you no longer use, and they are in good condition, then please bring them back to school and place them in the plastic crates in Gwynn. It costs €4 per box for transportation – please place the money in an envelope and place it in the box.
On Tuesday twenty Transition Year pupils visited Microsoft Ireland’s newest building, One Microsoft Place, to explore their ‘Dreamspace’ – a wonderful space for young people to learn more about technology. On arrival, the pupils were given a tour of the amazing award winning building, where some of the highlights include the yoga cube, the wellness centre, the amazing “mountain” stairs, the roof garden and the LED waterfall. After the tour they settled into the amazing Dreamspace – a vibrant learning environment – discussing Microsoft’s contribution to technology in their lives before exploring their latest innovations in assisted technology for those with disabilities. The learned about the skills needed to thrive in STEM careers, with a focus on development of soft skills. Then their first challenge – a team building / problem solving task – the Marble Track. With a few assorted household items, each team had to create a track for a marble to travel before settling within a small square of graph paper. There were no rules except that is couldn’t be pushed and had to stop on the graph paper. Each team took a different approach (there was some astounding creativity on show) but all ended successfully completing the task (one team broke the record). But then it was on to the main task – a brief introduction to coding via the Mirco:bit software and hardware. The pupils learned about the basics of coding before programming their own devices, using Microsoft surface tablets, to play a game of rock, paper, scissors. Later they learned how to send messages from one device to another.
The pupils thoroughly enjoyed their experience and, no doubt, stoked their interest in STEM and coding (incidentally this week is European Code Week). We would like to thank Microsoft and their Dreamspace team for a most enjoyable, wonderful learning experience.
Last weekend saw the first round of House Debates on Saturday evening, both Junior & Senior, and the Transition Year House Speech competition on Sunday night – always a lively affair.
Shannon Dent reports on the Senior Debate:
The topic discussed in the first round was Voluntourism and if it should be banned or not. Some of the major key points that were brought up in the debates were the negative after effects of voluntourism and how it can be detrimental to a small disadvantaged community. As well as how voluntourism can have a positive effect on both the voluntourist and the people receiving the help by being able to provide an experience for both sides. This topic is a bit difficult to discuss because it can go either way. It brings up many questions such as: Do people receiving the help from voluntourism get used to it and do not try to improve their well being? What happens to the people after the voluntourists are gone? Are buildings created by voluntourists of good quality? Why would it be wrong to volunteer while on your vacation? Is it really helping? Do people benefit from it? The subject is different for every case but the debaters on the night did a very good job supporting their argument. Debating in the Cadogan, with a very thought provoking debate there was a combination of Beresford and Tibradden proposing against Gwynn. Speakers for Tibradden and Beresford: Caoimhe Cleary, Georg Mueller-Methling and Noah Leach. Speakers for Gwynn: Toby Green, Killian Morrel and Alexander Casado. Debating in the Lower Argyle, a very strong and interesting debate between Iona and Glen took place. Speakers for Iona: Amy Cosgrove, Éile Ní Chianain and Sinead Cleary. Speakers for Glen: James Park, Dmytro Kasianenko and William Zitzmann. Finally debating in the BSR, with a very engaging debate was Hollypark proposing against Stackallan. Speakers for Hollypark: Georgia Wignall, Alexandra Murray and Sofia Leach. The winners were Gwynn, Glen and Stackallan.
To finalize, this first round of debates was a great way to start a new year of debating. Congratulations to the winning houses and to all the speakers involved. Thank you to Mr Brett, Ms Lynch and Ms Morely for being the adjudicators of the evening. Well done to Amy Cograve, Jiwoo Park, San Lawrence and Toby Greene who awarded “best speakers” for the first round. Also a quick reminder that for the next round, electronic devices will not be allowed while debating, handwritten notes are accepted. Once you have your debaters for the next round we ask you to email them to Ms Duggan as soon as possible. Good luck on the next few rounds and do try to get involved!
Thea Walsh, Form III, reports on the Junior Debates:
My debating team consisted of Sophie Webb, Rachel Mungavin, Henry Johnson, Christopher Atkins and myself, Thea Walsh. We were proposing the motion ”This House Believes that Fast Food Should be Banned’. The opposition team was Emma Hinde, Akin Babajide, Miles Bubulia and Wolfgang Romanowski. There were some thoughtful and provocative speeches presented on the night and also some very intelligent points of order, which put each speaker on the spot. A special well done to Christopher Atkins, new to the school in September, who was the only first former debating on the night. As there is growing interest in debating, Miss Dugan and I are floating the idea of a junior house debating competition to mirror the one taking place between the senior houses. At the end of the night, after questions from the floor, the winners were announced. The team proposing the motion won. Rachel Mungavin won the accolade of best speaker. A special thank you Miss Morley for adjudicating and Miss Duggan for making all of this possible.
It was a fantastic night overall and a great start to the year’s public speaking events. However, much like Dublin buses, you wait weeks for one public speaking event and the second one follows soon after. On Sunday, ten inspired Transition Year pupils spoke passionately on a wide range of subjects – from gun control & dyslexia to religion & the Leaving Cert – but it was Raphaela Ihuoma who emerged victorious. Iona were named the House winners. Well done to all on providing interesting, entertaining and thoughtful speeches.
Well done again to our Sailing Team who competed at last weekend’s All Ireland Schools Sailing Event in Sutton. Alas, neither crew finished among the medals but they competed valiantly. After a successful first day, bad luck followed them on the second. One of the boats, crewed by brother Denis and Max Cully, capsized while the other boat, with Katherine Kelly & Jack O’Hora onboard, broke a mast when colliding with one of the safety boats. These unfortunate series of events scuppered their chances but they still managed to finish a respectable 13th out of 18 schools competing.
The College’s top sailor, Transition Year pupil Tim Norwood, unfortunately didn’t compete at the schools event this year as he was attending the Irish Sailing Association’s Helmsman’s Championship in Dun Laoghaire. Tim has had an extremely successful summer of sailing, winning at the RS Feva Eastern Championships in May and the RS Feva Inland Championships in July and, most recently, the RS Feva Southern Championships in Baltimore. He finished third at the RS Feva National Championships and fourth at the European RS Feva Championships, sailing the only Irish boat at the UK hosted event. He is currently ranked the number one RS Feva sailor in Ireland – a fantastic achievement.
Sailing is becoming an increasingly popular sport amongst our pupils and hopefully we will see further success for our pupils in the coming years – watch this space!
Last week, while our Leaving & Junior Certificate candidates settled into this intense exam period, the pupils in the other Forms took part in a variety of trips across Ireland. Form V spent four days in the Burren, their traditional ‘Trips Week’ expedition, doing a variety of Biology & Geography fieldwork but with plenty of opportunity for fun in the sun too (we got a lot of sun). The trip began with a walk ‘n talk up Blackhead followed by surfing / rock climbing at Lahinch before experiencing a stunning sunset at the iconic Cliffs of Moher. The vast majority of the fieldwork was carried out on Thursday – the Geographers exploring Liscannor Bay while the Biologists studied both sandy and rocky seashores near Fanore – while Friday began with a hike up Mulloughmore Mountain before the Geographers went caving and the Biologists hunted for orchids (and saints) at Slieve Carran. Finally, on Saturday, they all visited Ailwee Caves & Birds of Prey Centre before heading home.
Our Transition Year pupils spent the week in the Achill Outdoor Education Centre doing a variety of activities, again in glorious early summer sun. The activities included kayaking, surfing, coasteering, hiking, swimming and, on the final evening, camping out in the Achill countryside.
Pupils from Forms I, II and Primary took part in a variety of day trips over the week, usually within an hours drive of Dublin. Trim Castle, Mellifont Abbey, Glasnevin Cemetery, Croke Park (Skyline Tour & GAA Museum), National Aquatic Centre, National Aquarium (in Bray), Bray Head (hike), Kilruddery House & Gardens, the National Gallery (Nolde Exhibition), St. Michan’s Church, Museum of Modern Art (Frank Bowling’s exhibition ‘Mappamundi’), Dublin Zoo, the Kippure Estate, the Botanical Gardens, St. Enda’s Park, Marlay Park and, the less leafy, Tayto Park were all visited over the four days – luckily all in glorious sunshine.
Evie Pringle in Form II describes her favourite moment of the week – Frank Bowling’s exhibition ‘Mappamundi’ at the IMMA.
I loved his use of vibrant colors splashed in an array of patterns across the canvas. He managed to stick everyday objects onto a canvas, slap a bit of paint on it and make it into a beautiful piece of thought-provoking art. His paintings were massive, much larger than your average painting, covered with layers and layers of acrylic paint, prints, marbling techniques and materials such as styrofoam. He often painted maps, usually of Africa, into his pictures. He sometimes started with a print on the canvas and then painted over it, or hid drawings or paintings under layers of paint, giving the impression that he paints for himself rather than for other people. This I like as it means he paints what he likes and it really brings out his personality. It turned out to be a really great day although my feet were a bit sore by the end.
Below is a large selection of photos from all the trips over the week.
Last night in the Big Schoolroom Mr McCarthy wrapped up this year’s Transition Year Programme, speaking to the pupils about their successes and progress throughout the year. He thanked all the TY staff team, and in particular Mr Noel Coldrick, who contributes a huge amount to the Year annually, and who is retiring from the College.
This year’s awards:
Margot Aleixandre: Spanish
Sam Lawrence: Biology
Shannon Dent: Physics
Sakhile Khumalo: Business
Calina Sacolax: Design
Charlotte Klingmann: Music, Chemistry, Economics
Tania Stokes: Art, Music, English, French, Latin
Eliza Somerville: Geography, Maths, Irish, Religion, Classical Studies
Congratulations also to:
Tania Stokes, winner of the Columban Award Scheme Cup.
Shannon Dent, winner of the Spirit of Transition Year Cup.
Last night, a very successful Transition Year Modern Languages Evening was held at Trinity College in Dublin, in which ten pupils gave talks and presentations in French and Spanish. Tania Stokes won The Alyn Stacey Cup for her presentation on Les Bandes Dessinées (you can view Tania’s presentation by clicking the link below). Joan Clivillé came second with his talk on the La Légion Etrangère. In third place, were Charlotte Klingmann & Calina Sacolax; their subject was La Música Latina.
All ten participants are to be commended for their efforts and high quality presentations. Mr Clarke’s set also made a very entertaining video on life at St Columba’s College. Tania was a clear winner because she had prepared her topic in depth, used her own words and was able to speak without excessive reference to her notes.
Special thanks go to Dr Alyn Stacey for allowing us to have use of the Swift Theatre as well as the three judges for giving up their evening to listen to our pupils.
Georg Müller-Methling, Form V reports on the recent school trip to China.
A group of 17 pupils and 3 teachers left St.Columba’s College on March 22nd very excited about the upcoming trip, less about the fact that they missed out on the house singing event the same evening and that they had to leave at 04:45 in the morning.
The group took two 8 hour flights, first to Abu Dhabi and then on to Hong Kong. The first day in Asia was very tough, for most of us the warm and humid climate was very unusual and we arrived in the morning, which meant that we had to stay up for another whole day, but everybody quickly forgot the exhaustion. We were welcomed by our first tour guide Ball-Ball (“because my body looks like a ball”), who was very interesting and funny, and spent the afternoon in a shopping mall to get some food and then we drove to our hotel to relax, before we had our first dinner in Asia. Later, we went for a walk to the fascinating harbour.
The next day we visited the 10,000 Buddhas, which led us to a nice spot on top of the city, then the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Hong Kong Science Museum, before we went to a have the first proper Chinese dinner. Most of us had to get used to the Chinese food, but it actually got better from day to day. The highlight of the day was yet to come: in the evening we went to Victoria Peak, from where you could have a magnificent view of Hong Kong and its enlightened skyscrapers. After that, some of us went to the Ladies’ market to buy some souvenirs.
The next day, Ball-Ball took us to Lantau Island, where we used a cable car to get to the Giant Buddha in the middle of the forests. We walked the way up to the Buddha and also visited the close by monasteries. In the evening we took the metro to the harbour to see the light show. On our last day in Hong Kong, we visited the NanLian Gardens, some of us had lunch in the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world, while others preferred McDonald’s, before we went to a food market and then on a bus ride to cross the border and get to Shenzhen Airport. As we found out later, saying hi to China meant saying bye to proper toilets, social media and English speaking people. It was a very long day, in the end we nearly missed our flight, but finally we arrived in Zhangjiajie.
Our new tour guide Becky who taught us Chinese songs (at least she tried) took us to the Tianzi Mountains in the Yuanjiajie National Forest Park, the place where the movie ‘Avatar’ was filmed, which was enormously impressive. In the afternoon we walked the longest and highest glass bottomed bridge in the world with a height of 260 Meters. The same night we flew to Shanghai, where our most interesting tour guide Qi waited for us.
In the morning we made our way outside the city in order to get to Zhujiajiao town, an ancient water town, before we went on to see the Chinese Maritime Museum & Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. That night we had dinner in the Xiantandi Area, a small area in the middle of China’s biggest city. Yu Garden and Shanghai’s old Town, where we had a delicious tea tasting, were on our list the next day before we flew to China’s former Capital Xian. In Xian we were accompanied by the probably funniest guide called Richard who had the very interesting habit of ending every sentence with the words “oh yeah”.
One of the most exciting and interesting events of the trip awaited for us the next day. We got to visit the Terracotta Replication Factory and the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Later that day we cycled the ancient city wall, which goes around the whole city and is 14 kilometers long. The following day we had to travel again, but this time we did not take the plane: the high-speed train (350 km/h) brought us to Beijing, our last destination. It took the train five hours for the 910 kilometers, it was an impressing experience. In Beijing tour guide Jing introduced us to the Peking duck before we headed to the hotel.
We spent Easter visiting the Tiananmen Square, only two days after Kim-Jong Un did, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. It was a very exhausting day with a lot of very interesting experiences, a lot of Smog and warm temperatures, a very special Easter.
Our last full day in China commenced with the visit of the Summer Palace from the Qing dynasty. The last site we visited was probably one of the highlights of the trip at the same time: The Great Wall. We climbed the 1,000 not always even steps and reached the top with an awesome view, however there was a lot of Smog unfortunately. After that we had our last dinner in China before we went to the airport to get home, again via Abu Dhabi.
For me personally, and I think for the whole group, this trip was an unforgettable experience. China is an extraordinarily interesting and exciting country with lots of beautiful sites to visit. It was also worth going for the experience we gained. At times it was a bit difficult for some of us, but when you accept the cultural differences like being the main object for a photo by many strangers, it is a highly enjoyable country.
Thank you to the teachers, especially Ms McEneaney, Ms Lynch and Mr Clarke as well as all the parents for making this awesome trip possible! I would highly recommend going on trips like this one in the future, because it is a really good opportunity to travel the world and broaden your mind.
A number of our Transition Year pupils recently took part in a Trinity College Geoscience Week. Shannon Dent reports on a challenging but exciting week’s events.
Geoscience week was organised to engage students into geology and the importance of this science in our daily lives. I went to this event with two other students in Transition Year in St. Columba’s, Calina Sacolax and Sam Lawrence. Apart from us there were 12 other students from different schools that also showed an interest to science and geology. The activities ranged from lectures to museum visiting to a day on the beach analyzing rocks and entering a small cave. We had 3 lectures and the one I enjoyed the most was one focused on seismographs and looking at earthquakes. The museums were also great fun. I have always wanted to visit the Book of Kells and the Old Library, and I was able to do it! It was a beautiful library and the book itself was crafted so intricately that I can understand the reason for its popularity. We also visited that Natural History museum which is packed with exhibits. Among the museum category we visited an art and science exhibition. These were a lot of fun and there was one specific piece that caught my eye, which was a DIY science kit including its own microscope that was made entirely of materials you can buy at local stores. During the beach day my friend Sam and I were picking at a rock and a shard-like piece fell out. We looked at it and decided to build a sort of spear with it, which sounds dangerous but was actually just for gags. Later on Shane told us about the micas (which are the shin bits in rocks, more specifically in granite) you can find in that specific rock and the layers of age in the rocks. Overall Geoscience was a really enjoyable activity and I definitely do recommend it for all Transition Year students who are interested in looking at the world through a scientific and curious point of view.
After the College’s huge success in last year’s pan-european CanSat competition (St. Columba’s were crowned Irish champions and went onto place 2nd in Europe), a new crew of Transition Year pupils want to follow up on the success on ‘Canny Potter’ with their own satellite ‘Can Solo’. Form IV pupil Calina Sacolax reports from a recent CanSat workshop at Dublin Institute of Technology.
Last Thursday (December 7th 2017) the new Cansat team were invited to a workshop in Dublin Institute of Technology, Kevin St. Our successful Canny Potter also attended to speak and give advice to the future cansat teams. On arrival we were given a talk about teamwork and presentation skills and shown tips on how to improve our public speaking and how to make an interesting presentation. Soon after the talk last year’s winners ‘Canny Potter’ from St. Columba’s gave an interesting and informative presentation on their experiences in the European Competition back in June.
The team couldn’t stress enough the importance of teamwork and making plans. They told everyone to get the primary mission working and then to start adding the additional sensors that corresponded with the aims of the project. After their presentation they took questions. Canny Potter was a hit with all the schools and were practically treated like celebrities. Many people want to take a picture with the European runner-ups and asked for tips and ideas from their projects. They were glad to help, shared their experiences openly and meet everybody. Team ‘Can Solo’ know that the pressure is on them particularly after last years’ very successful project.
The team then participated in a soldering workshop. Nobody in ‘Can Solo’ really knew how to solder properly but with the help of the mentors our team learned pretty quickly. Practice makes perfect so we will continue to practise until we become masters at the art of soldering.
We are happy to have made such an educative and helpful trip and look forward to building our satellite in a can next term for the regional competition in March.
Caoimhe Cleary was Editor; Tania Stokes illustrated; and there were impressive contributions made by many other pupils, both artistically and as writers. You can see the video ‘Missing You‘ by Tiernan Mullane below.
Last week, Transition Year pupils from the College hosted a workshop on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with pupils from Nøtterøy High School in Norway. This was the fourth time Nøtterøy High School have visited the College in as many years and each year a new area of science is explored and debated using a collaborate approach to learning.
The day began with the pupils being divided into nine teams, with pupils from both schools on each team. A few icebreaker challenges allowed the teams get to know one another before the real work kicked off. Our first such challenge was a construction activity where each team had to suspend a plastic cup in the air, hanging from a structure made only from straws and tape.
The pupils were given a short presentation and shown a video about genetically modified organisms, learning about the positives and negatives of GMOs. Later the pupils participated in a variety of collaborative activities which helped them learn about different types of GMOs, and the advantages of each.
After lunch, each team had to design their own GMO, and present and pitch their new product to the group. There were some very creative ideas, such as chocolate with added iron, and a Crale (mix between a crab and a whale) which filtered microplastics from the ocean. The winner of this activity was the Pineango, a mix of genes between a pineapple and a mango, allowing people to absorb vitamins more easily from their food and reduce teenage acne. In all it was another highly successful and enjoyable collaboration between two very different schools, once again organised by Ms Hennessy. One pupil remarked:
This was a very beneficial experience and we learned a lot about collaboration and teamwork, as well as some interesting facts and information about GMOs.
The first round of the Joutes Oratoires, the national French debating competition organised by the Alliance Française, took place on Monday evening and saw the St. Columba’s team of Nyla Jamieson (captain), Georg Müller-Methling, James Park and Sophie Wainwright propose the motion Il faudrait interdire les zoos (Zoos should be forbidden) against a team from Sandford Park School. The debate was heated with some very well-researched and well-constructed speeches delivered by both sides, along with some sharp rebuttals and counter-rebuttals, all through French. However, the impressive level of teamwork and comprehensive consideration of the motion saw St. Columba’s emerge victorious and proceed to the second round in November.
There was similar success in round one of the inter-schools Spanish debating competition, held is Castleknock College last week. The team was made up of Grace Goulding, Lucia Masding, Anna Laurenceau, Suji Franckel and Alexandra Murray Donaldson. The motion for their debate was “This house does not support independence for Cataluña” and they successfully supported the motion against a strong team from Mac Dara’s of Templeogue and they now move onto the next round after half term. A particular well done to Anna Laurenceau who won the award for best speaker.
Public speaking and debating are important part of the College’s extracurricular programme. Below, Form III pupil Phoebe Grennell gives an account of the progress of our Junior Debating Team over the past month.
Last month the Junior Debating Team attended a debating workshop in Belvedere College. The pupils who took part were Emma Hinde, Raphaella Ihuma, Charlotte Moffitt, Maybelle Rainey, Ailbhe Matthews, Éile Ní Chíchnáin and myself, Phoebe Grennell.
When we arrived at Belvedere College, we were warmly welcomed and were taken to a large lecture hall where we met up with some debating teams from other schools. Many of us, myself included, had never debated before. The aim of the workshop was to introduce us to debating and to give us some introductory skills and tips.
A kind lady introduced herself and confidently started speaking to us about debating. She gave us some good tips and advice on how to write speeches and to deliver them. We learned that the objective of a debate is to prove how the principles and practicalities of your side of the motion is true. We were given some tips.
- Keep speeches to a minimum, no more than four minutes long.
- Never read your speech, engage with your audience with eye contact.
- The speech should present a cohesive case containing three main points of information (POIs).
- Each POI needs the same amount of time.
- Analyse and research each POI before the debate. This will involve asking why the points are relevant and then answering this question. This will help address counter arguments.
- Use persuasive language.
- Give lots of examples but no personal antidotes.
- Use structure when flagging points (a) say what you are going to say (2) say it (3) say what you’ve said.
- Use structure when flagging points – say what you are going to say, say it and then say what you’ve said.
- Remain objective and calm
This workshop was interesting and we learned a lot. For anyone getting involved for the first time, debating helps improve confidence in public speaking as well as being a good way to keep us up to date with current events and form opinions about them. Our first debate followed two weeks later in UCD where we were able to show what we learnt from the workshop and were able to use these tips in our debates. The topic for our next debate is ‘Why there should be a sugar tax’. It has been a good experience so far and I look forward to using these skills in the future.
Eliza Somerville from Fourth Form reviews the recent TY House Speech evening:
An evening full of captivating speeches began with a talk about concussion from Thady McKeever. He spoke about the dangers of contact sports, and the effects of repeated concussion on the brain. He ended his speech with a thought-provoking anecdote about an American football player, who ultimately died as a result of his eighteen-year career in professional sports.
I thought that this speech was very engaging. It began with a strong metaphor of your worst enemy hitting you with a bowling ball, and it was shocking to learn that this is equivalent to the force of a boxer’s fist. I also thought that the story about Mike Webster at the end of the speech was very powerful, as it showed the real-life effects of contact sports on the brain and body.
Next, Frances Wilkinson told us about the Butterfly Effect. She explained how small events can have huge, unforeseen consequences. For example, a butterfly flapping its wings could eventually create a tornado. She used an example of a man who spared the life of a soldier in World War I. This soldier turned out to be Adolf Hitler, who was responsible for millions of deaths in World War II.
I found this speech very interesting, as I was curious about how large an effect a small change could truly have. From the examples Frances used, I realised that even the smallest of actions can change the course of history.
Alexis Haarmann then told us about the controversy surrounding the death penalty. He explained that five per cent of people who are sentenced to death turn out to be innocent, and pointed out that waiting for the death penalty to be carried out is mental torture even for rightfully convicted criminals. I thought that this speech gave me a good background to the death penalty, and it made me more convinced that it should be abolished everywhere.
Ben Upton then outlined each side of the argument on whether marijuana should be legal or not. He explored both the recreational and the medicinal side of marijuana, explaining how the legalisation of marijuana would benefit the economy, and how people who experience seizures can benefit greatly from the use of medicinal marijuana. He eventually came to the conclusion that marijuana should not be legalised, as it just causes people to drift further and further away from reality. This speech was well-researched and it was an interesting view on the controversial topic of marijuana’s legalisation.
This was followed by an impressive speech from Tania Stokes on climate change. She first acknowledged that thinking of global issues can be daunting, and then emphasised that even one person changing their behaviour can have an effect on global issues. She then told us some simple tips on how we can reduce our own carbon emissions and waste. Tania ended her speech by telling us to imagine the most beautiful place we’d ever been to, destroyed forever because of climate change.
Tania’s speech stood out to me as she clearly knew her topic very well, and she was truly passionate about environmental issues. I thought that her ending, where she told people to visualise an amazing place, gone forever, was very strong, as it emphasised the shocking influence climate change could have on our world over the next hundred years.
Next, Andrew Kim gave a speech about transport. He pointed out that, four hundred years ago, people had to walk everywhere, or if they were lucky they had a horse. He described the efficiency of the transport system in South Korea, where they have a single card for all modes of transport. Andrew then went on to talk about the various improvements in transport in recent years, such as self-driving cars and the Hyperloop.
Andrew presented what could have been a dull topic in an engaging way, showing how our lives would be drastically altered if modern transport did not exist. I also found the modern advancements in transport fascinating.
Sam Lawrence then gave an absorbing speech about conservation. He informed us about the issues caused by our over-consumption of products such as palm oil. Deforestation of palm trees is occurring at an alarming rate, as fifty per cent of all products in an average supermarket contain palm oil. Sam covered many important issues in his speech, and showed how vital it is to conserve our planet’s resources.
Afterwards, Sophia Cabo spoke about divorce. In her speech, she drew from personal experience to paint a stirring picture of what it is like to go through the divorce of your parents at a young age. Sophia said that there are three stages to divorce: sadness, anger and happiness, and revealed that she was finally in the happy stage.
In her speech, Sophia showed a side of divorce that many people do not get to see. I thought that she described her journey through a difficult time very effectively.
Killian Morrell then talked about the Beatles. He said that his dad was a fan of the band, so Killian had grown up listening to their music. He added that now, when he listens to their music, he instantly gets nostalgic because it reminds him of his childhood in Dubai. Killian’s speech was unusual, and it gave an interesting picture of the different musical influences in his life.
Finally, Sophia Cole talked about women in sport. She said that recently, people have begun to see that women should not work solely in the home, as they have a lot more to offer. However, she explained that there is still huge inequality between men and women’s sport. For example, men get paid a lot more money for playing the same sport as women, and often get to play in drastically better venues than women.
Sophia raised some interesting points, and her speech was both clear and coherent. It was shameful to hear some of the inequality women still experience in the world of sport today.
At the end of the evening, I thought that the joint winners, Thady McKeever and Tania Stokes, were well-deserving of the prize as their speeches were both compelling and thought-provoking, and they each approached their topics with striking originality.