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St Paul's students winners at Diocesan Public Speaking competition

Congratulations to Year 6 student Domenico and Year 5 student Lilia – placing 1st and 2nd respectively in their year groups at the Diocesan Public Speaking competition! A marvellous combined effort representing our school, Domenico spoke to the topic: 'It’s complicated!', while Lilia engaged the audience by posing the question, 'Is new always better?'.

Public speaking may be something that many people are afraid of undertaking – according to research, it tops our biggest fears and is one of the world’s most common phobias. But it wasn't a concern for the students who attended this year’s Catholic Development Fund Diocesan Public Speaking grand final – an annual competition which challenges students to develop communication skills, confidence, motivation and knowledge sharing.

Held in Bowral, the top twelve students from across the diocese – six from Year 5 and six from Year 6 – took to the stage one by one. Required to deliver a pre-planned speech in front of a large roomful of people, it’s a challenge which would make many adults shudder. However, the competition was taken in the stride of all attendees from primary schools across the diocese.

In the lead-up to the event, the students were given topics to choose from, including: 'Every child matters'; 'What makes an Australian'; 'Human rights and wrongs' and 'There’s no ‘I’ in team'.

From this starting point, the student’s imagination flourished and every speech was unique in its content and delivery, containing personal anecdotes and famous quotes such as Dr Seuss’ "Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get done".

The crowd included family, friends, teachers and members of the Catholic Education Office – including convenor of the Diocesan Public Speaking competition, Jo Robinson, and CEDoW Director of Schools, Peter Turner.

“This competition is important, as it allows students to showcase their skills and express their thoughts in a public speaking forum. The speeches were of a very high standard and the audience was both informed and entertained by the students over a range of topics” — Jo Robinson, convenor of the Diocesan Public Speaking competition

The judging panel was made up of adjudicators with experience in public speaking – Mrs Susan Newton, from Southern Highlands Toastmasters, and St Benedict’s Oran Park Middle Leader, Mr Andrew Lundy. According to Mrs Robinson, their job was a “difficult one” due to the quality and standard of the student speakers.

Year 6 student, Domenico [pictured above] crafted a winning speech that addressed the notion of world peace. His speech suggested that there's not a one-size-fits-all solution to uniting different societies. "We need to change the hearts and minds of people who are filled with deep-seated prejudice and hate. We need more leaders who can rise above their own human weakness for the greater good," he shared.

It was a second-time victory for the first place-taker. “In fact, Domenico won the Diocesan Public Speaking competition in Year 5, last year, as well as in Year 6 this year,” St Paul's Principal, Michael Reardon said. “It is one thing to achieve this once in a lifetime, but to achieve something as significant as this twice before high school makes it an even greater achievement.”

According to his teachers, the young student drafted his speech with minimal help and was praised for delivering it with sincerity.

“I'd like to say that Domenico's success has largely been a product of the huge support provided to him by the school. However, in reality, I'm proud to say that it was all Domenico and we admire his achievement even more so. It was a great day for St Paul’s overall, with our very own Lilia coming second in the Year 5 competition as well! Lilia's speech was delivered with passion and authenticity and we are just as proud of her” — Principal, Michael Reardon