Manitoulin students speak to their strengths at Legion competition

The 12 students entered in the Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Branch #177 public speaking competition brought unique topics and speaking styles to the competition. The judges said this was a tough year for them to choose their winners. photo by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT—This year’s Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Branch #177 public speaking competition featured a whole range of emotions and topics from eleven masterful student speakers who were all vying for a shot at advancing to the Legion’s zone competition this coming Sunday.

“It was very successful. We had a good crowd in there and it’s nice to see that people are interested in public speaking,” said Comrade Marcel Gauthier of the Little Current Legion branch, who organized the event.

In the primary division, featuring Grades 1 to 3, Dexter Mailloux of Assiginack Public School (APS) gave a speech on his love of dance, Wade Debassige of Lakeview School delivered his piece on being a goalie for his M’Chigeeng hockey team and Amber S. Brizuela of Central Manitoulin Public School (CMPS) told the audience about her stepfather Perry’s cooking mishaps. The fourth student in the category, from Little Current Public School (LCPS), was unable to present that day.

The students each brought their own unique style of delivery but Amber emerged victorious with her speech that saw the audience in fits of laughter through her relatable stories. Dexter won the second-place award and Wade took third.

“Perry does lots of messes around the house and I thought it would be funny to write up my speech about it,” Amber told The Expositor.

“It’s going to be a little harder, but I’m going to practice a lot more and I’m going to try my best,” she said, speaking about the upcoming Espanola competition.

Moving to the junior division of Grades 4 to 6, Aspen Debassige of Lakeview School went first with her speech on human height and why being tall might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Eric Wahl, who took first place last year representing CMPS, presented next with his speech on his passion for screens and how he negotiated a bit of recreational screen time every day. Garrett Charbonneau from LCPS followed with his speech on life as the son of a teacher at his school, and finally, Cameron Meawasige of APS shared her love for singing with a speech about background music and the soundtrack to her life.

Garrett took first place, followed by Eric in second, Aspen in third and Cameron in fourth.

“Getting to see everyone else’s speeches was definitely my favourite part. I really liked the one on background music, it was interesting and funny,” he said.

In the intermediate category of Grades 7 to 9, Madison Sagan Panamick of Lakeview School began the set with a look at sleep paralysis. Annie Balfe of CMPS followed with a speech on her love of cooking, complete with a chef’s hat, then Jocelyn Kuntsi of APS presented on fears, anchored by her unease with other drivers on the road. Morgan Green from LCPS finished the set with her exploration of Canadian stereotypes.

Morgan took the top prize in the intermediate category, followed by Annie in second, Jocelyn in third and Madison in fourth.

“I was just reading a book about it and I thought it would be a good speech topic,” Morgan told The Expositor.

According to long-time judge Wendy Gauthier, this year’s event drew several excellent speakers in all age categories. She said they brought unique topics that varied from some of the usual topics that students often choose.

“A number of the speakers in the divisions were so close; it made judging a challenge for the three judges, which is wonderful to see,” she said. “It always makes for interesting listening to everybody and engages the audience too when the kids offer something new to hear.”

The winning speakers in each category will be moving on to the next round in the zone public speaking competition, held this coming Sunday, February 24 at the Legion in Espanola.