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The Art of speaking up: Festival of Speech

Wenona’s entrants to the Festival of Speech made an overwhelmingly positive impression with their critical thinking, presentation and oratory skills last weekend.

In an age saturated by social media, it has never been more important (or difficult) to be heard. Since its inception in 1996, preparing for the annual Festival of Speech has been beneficial in helping Wenona students from Year 7 to Year 11 improve their ability to win over an audience.

The competition incorporates sections on drama, debating, poetry, prose readings, current affairs, and religious and ethical questions. In order to research and prepare for their chosen section, the Wenona team were aided by Festival of Speech Coordinator, Ms Parker, who helped to provide expert guidance and advice.

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Ms Parker said, “Celebrating the power of voice, the Independent Girls’ Schools Association (IGSA) Festival of Speech provided students with the opportunity to engage in public speaking and performance across a diverse range of areas. In place of the usual festival hosted by an IGSA school, students from across New South Wales connected via Zoom to compete in Debating, Poetry, Prose Readings, Current Affairs, Public Speaking and Drama.”

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“To streamline the process, participants submitted videos of themselves presenting their speeches and performances, with only finalists going on to deliver these live on Saturday, 16 October. Despite the challenge of an all-virtual Festival of Speech, Wenona students adapted their form to speak to an on-screen audience from a seated position. One highlight from the competition was Jemima in Year 10, who was a finalist for Senior Public Speaking and performed a compelling speech about the similarities of the roaring twenties to today’s society. She absolutely wowed the audience with her polished speaking manner and was tough competition to the other finalists. With great passion and tenacity, our young women reflected the power of voice and how important this is for our young people to enact change in a vastly unique and curious world.”

Well done to all the students who took part and a huge thank you to Ms Parker for her tireless hard work and support behind the scenes!