‘Emilia Chierici Black’ Wins Dumfries Rotary Primary Schools Speechmaking Competition 2016

This well-established competition is now being run by the Rotary Club of Dumfries. The Club is proud and privileged to continue with such a prestigious event, and to add it to our portfolio of activities involving children. Who says they should be seen and not heard?

From a field of 24 speakers representing 8 schools from the Dumfries area, nine young speakers won their way through to the final which took place on 23 March 2016 at St Andrew’s Primary School Dumfries. Having demonstrated their speaking skills at the semi final stage by recounting their experiences of “My Trip to the Space Station”, the finalists then turned their attention to “ The Grass is always Greener on the Other Side”. How well they did in interpreting what was a challenging theme for adults let alone 11 year olds!

The judging panel of Colin Grant, Director of Education, Kate Kaye of Dalbeattie and Dumfries Lady Speakers Club, and Maureen McKerrow, Dumfries Rotary Club President had the difficult task of choosing the winner from what was an outstanding array of talent. From thought provoking philosophical opinion to political comment, from Obama to Trump, from the refugee crisis to the White House from the historical to the hysterical, the youngsters did themselves, their schools, and their families proud. One young lass, in imagining the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff in a Dumfries setting, even managed to tease out a roar of laughter by remarking on the ‘old goats’ of the Rotary Club! – probably a future President in the making!!

Clearly, however, the judges had to reach a conclusion, and in summing up Colin Grant paid tribute to the overall excellence of the speeches, the importance of the competition in developing skills in speaking and the use of language, and commended the schools, teachers and families for encouraging the youngsters in participating.

Jessica Atkinson (with June Taylor)

Overall winner was Emilia Chierici Black ( Main Photo)of St Andrew’s Primary School. Second place and Runner Up was Rebecca Mcnair of Laurieknowe Primary School. Winner of the Taylor Cup for the most humorous speech – donated in memory of Rotarian George Taylor – and graciously presented by Mrs June Taylor, was Jessica Atkinson, of St Michael’s Primary School.

All the finalists and judges are pictured, along with winner Emilia Black (with Club President Maureen McKerrow) and humorous speech winner Jessica Atkinson (with June Taylor).

Convener of the Rotary Club’s Young Generation Committee and MC for the competition, John Glover proposed a comprehensive vote of thanks, paying tribute to the commitment and enthusiasm of speakers, teachers, and parents for presenting the young speakers and encouraging them, and to the good number of Rotarians who attended. He was particularly appreciative of the support given and organisational skills of St Andrew’s Head Teacher and his staff in preparing the venue for the competition.

Given the success of the competition and the interest of schools it was hoped that other schools from the locality not previously involved would be encouraged to take part. Lastly and not least, he paid tribute to the Dumfries Ladies Speakers Club for sustaining the competition over the years and expressed the view that Dumfries Rotary Club would continue to take this competition forward for the foreseeable future.

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