During the recent holidays, Canberra Girls Grammar School played host to Australian Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships (AIDPSC) and Speakfest, drawing students from schools along the eastern seaboard and as far afield as Western Australia.
This competition sees students compete in four different speaking elements, presenting in each daily for two days. As such it is the most comprehensive, intensive and challenging competition on the debating calendar. Coordinators randomly place students into teams of two with forty-five minutes to prepare before entering a debate in which they must demonstrate, apart from all their usual debating skills, the ability to work effectively with someone they have only just met.
Interpretative reading, impromptu speaking and the student’s choice of a prepared persuasive or after-dinner speech make up the other aspects of the completion. The ranking of the competition is achieved through the accumulation of scores in all four elements across the two days.
Day three is dedicated to finals undertaken by the top ranked students in each element. Adele Burke (Year 11) was named the 2016 AIDPS champion with Ari Warrington (Year 11) ranking third - with both being selected to represent Australia at the Worlds in 2017. Ari was also the after-dinner champion. Our other team members, Stephanie Jones (Year 10) and Asha Clementi (Year 11), performed very well, with Stephanie ranking second in impromptu speaking and fifth in debating..
The Speakfest competition models AIDPSC and acts as a training competition. Again, the team of Bianca Barrass-Borzatti (Year 9), Elisabeth Abhayaratna (Year 9), Gemma Hudson (Year 8) and Jamie Noonan (Year 7) acquitted themselves with distinction, Bianca ranking sixth and Gemma ninth. Bianca ranked in the top ten in every element, demonstrating the secret of the competition, consistency across all aspects. Gemma ranked fourth in impromptu speaking and second in after-dinner.
Teacher in Charge - Debating
Photo: Front row: Speakfest team - Elisabeth Abhayaratna, Bianca Barrass-Borzatti, Gemma Hudson and Jamie Noonan
Back row: AIDPSC team - Adele Burke, Ari Warrington, Stephanie Jones, Asha Clementi