Thursday evening saw a thrilling return of the Senior Dodd Public Speaking Competition to Main Hall. Over the course of the evening, eight members of the Sixth Form took to the floor and collectively delivered an array of absorbing speeches which left the judges ‘blown away’.
The speeches were of a remarkably consistent high standard, especially when one considers the lack of opportunities for such occasions over the course of the last two years. All speeches were well-crafted, displayed an awareness of the importance of structure and skilfully deployed various rhetorical techniques.
The two judges, Melanie Fullbrook (Founding Director of Revels in Hand) and Oli Rose (associate writer for Revels in Hand), were fulsome in their praise of all students, both in the formal feedback at the end of the evening, and informally afterwards.
Mojo Ojo won first prize for an assured speech on The History of Natural Hair, in which she raised awareness of how people of colour have been ostracised and persecuted for their hair but have also drawn strength and a sense of togetherness from practices such as collective braiding. Through the speech, Mojo wove personal anecdotes alongside wider cultural references in an unaffected manner.
Fraser Spalding was placed second for a highly entertaining and brilliantly clever ‘meta’ speech As Yet Untitled which focused self-consciously on the art of delivering a speech.
And in third place was Alice Griffin for her measured, amusing and adroit speech Dad, What’s For Dinner?, which contrasted the idealised presentation of gender stereotypes in progressive TV adverts with the more sober reality of human experience within the family home.
Sienna Romero-Cameron and Sophie Mathews both delivered powerful polemics on The Horrors of Family YouTube Channels (Sienna) and The Need to Abolish the Death Penalty (Sophie), while both Meely Thesiger and Verity Russell considered the dangers and drawbacks of a dominant global language in a highly competent and engaging fashion; Meely received praise for the structure of her speech while Verity was commended for her bravery in speaking in front of the lectern and without amplification in an engaging fashion.
In many ways, the most unique presentation was given by Jason Churcher who gave a quietly absorbing talk on Rain and Its Connection to Emotion. Against a soft backdrop of rainfall, Jason thoughtfully shared his personal experiences and observations on the universal experience of rainfall in a talk that was both touching and hypnotic.
The whole evening was overseen by the charismatic Miss Nancy Thorpe who proved to be a most warm and engaging host.
By Nick Russell