Should guns be allowed on college campuses? Should free secondary education be available to everyone living in the United States? These questions and more were examined Tuesday, April 4 by seven upper school speech contest finalists.
Each year, students in grades seven through eleven are required to compose and extemporaneously present speeches up to 10 minutes in length. Teachers nominate the best speeches delivered in their classes, and nominated students present their speeches before an unbiased third-party for a chance to be named a speech contest finalist.
This year, juniors Christopher Matei, Christie Kang and Madison Paez, and sophomores Yasmeen Altaji and Amber Bhutta, and freshmen Logan Kapit and Amrita Bonthu competed for top prizes of $500, $400 and $300.
Contrary to last year’s January speech deadline, this year’s underclassmen had until late March to compose and perfect their performances. According to English department head and speech contest organizer Mrs. Maryanne Hurtado, delivering speeches “better prepares these students for college.”
The four-person judges’ panel was formed by freelance writer Mr. Nick Sortal, AHS Dean of Admissions Mr. Mark Shaw, AHS Director of Educational Technology for PK3-12 Mrs. Pam Holifield and Editorial Director for Uncommon Caribbean Mr. Steven Bennett. Speeches were assessed individually, and judges collectively decided which students would take home prize money.
Mr. Sortal, a first time judge for the event, said “I love seeing how well these kids have worked on their speeches – the idea that they can gather facts like this, put them together, and speak coherently is something that is going to be great for them throughout their lives.”
A ten minute intermission was held after the speeches were delivered, during which time refreshments were served and the four judges convened to decide on the top three winners.
Sophomore Amber Bhutta finished first with her speech against oil drilling, junior Christopher Matei finished second with his speech advocating for oil drilling and freshman Amrita Bonthu came third with her speech against guns on college campuses.
Students who participated in speech runoffs will be awarded a certificate by their English teachers.