When most adults are asked what one of their greatest fears is, public speaking always rates highly. Yet, it is such an important and necessary skill. We all need to make a speech at some time in our lives, such as a Class Captain, birthday, acceptance or Best Man’s speech, or even farewelling a colleague. This is why 18ɫƬ Regional College students are encouraged to participate in both formal and informal speaking situations in and out of the classroom.

Keeping this in mind, five of our Senior College students competed in the City of Lions ‘Youth of the Year’ competition in Cloud 9 on Tuesday 19 March. These courageous students were: Elka Chamley, Elizabeth Ettlin, Xander Power, Penny Tassicker and Nichola Williams. Needless to say, I felt very privileged to spend time with such a dynamic group of young people.

It was a fantastic day, shining a light on the students’ accomplishments, their opinions on societal issues and dreams for the future. Seventy percent of the LYOTY competition is interview based, where leadership, extra-curricular, academic and community accomplishments are judged, and the remaining thirty percent is determined through public speaking. On the day, each student underwent a rigorous twenty-minute interview, then delivered two impromptu speeches and one five-minute prepared speech.

We were incredibly fortunate to have the support of Cheryl Wells and Rod Jordan from the City of Burnie Lions Club. Cheryl shared her thoughts with me after the competition in an email,

It was such a privilege today, as part of Lions Youth of the Year program, to be able to come into your school and be treated to meeting such amazing people in the five candidates who nominated themselves to be part of the program. The program is not for the faint hearted – you need to be such a well-rounded, capable student. You need to demonstrate excellence in academic studies, commitment to sport, show you care for your community, able to show leadership, have high ideals and on top of that be prepared to do some impromptu and prepared public speaking. That is quite a list but the five young people I met today were able to excel in all those areas and be thoroughly charming and well-mannered as well. I was treated with such respect, enjoyed some very interesting conversations and as for the public speaking, well I was blown away. I heard some heartfelt tributes, desperate pleas for understanding around academic studies, patriotic fervour for a hometown and sincere concern for misogynistic views. The Youth of the Year program is aimed at finding and exemplifying these unique qualities in young people. Clearly the students at MRC are getting a very diverse range of experiences to enhance their academic studies.

As well as the City of Burnie Lions’ members, Lions members from across the Coast were involved. Victoria Cochrane, the incoming District Governor of Lions Tasmania, was the Timekeeper, and Dale Crawford was Master of Ceremonies for the Public Speaking section of the day. We were also fortunate to have Leo of the Year Lily Davis in attendance. Our judges were a powerful trio, Steph Templeton, Nigel Sheahen, and Graeme Weatherley, who gave the five students wonderful feedback at the end of the competition. Their job was incredibly difficult as each student was talented in so many areas.

A huge thank you goes to Ms Licandro and her VET Certificate II Hospitality students, and Mrs T. Williams in Cloud 9, for absolutely spoiling us with their sensational catering. Thank you also to Ms Miskovic for accommodating the interviewing process, Mrs J. Williams, Mr Humphries, and Mr Daw for assisting with the set up, and Mr Wescombe and Ms Licandro for helping with the clean-up.

Congratulations to Nichola Williams for being awarded the Overall Winner of the competition, and to Elka Chamley for winning the Public Speaking award. As Nichola was unable to attend the Regional Final, Penny Tassicker represented the City of Burnie Lions Club.

Mrs Nicki Rogers

Extended Learning Key Teacher