Trio of students vie for public speaking title in Greater Victoria

Rotary offers up $1,000 bursary to Greater Victoria champion

Speaking their mind is something Greater Victoria high school students enjoy doing, if the results of the inaugural Royal Oak Rotary Club public speaking competition are any measure.

Finalists Ian Webber of S.J. Willis alternative school, Tamiko Sianen of Mount Douglas secondary and Alysha Rose of Stelly’s secondary, who go head-to-head May 30 at Spectrum community school, are the cream of the crop among more than 100 students who presented their thoughts on a variety of topics at school-based and semifinal showdowns.

Competition co-ordinator John Saunders, a retired university professor and current Rotary member, expected maybe a handful of local schools to take him up on his request to provide students for this new event.

Saunders was pleasantly surprised when 11 schools, eight in the Greater Victoria district and three in the Saanich district, took him up on the offer. The cash prizes of $1,000 for the winner, $750 for the runner-up and $500 for the third-place finisher were likely good motivators.

The quality of many presentations has been stunning, he added.

“When I sat in on the preliminary contest at Claremont, which had 14 students, some of them were exceptional,” he said, noting the overall quality of speeches in the semifinals was even more impressive. “I think the finals are going to be spectacular – I can just imagine what the top-notch students will do.”

At the school level, students had a list of 12 topics to choose from. The 11 school winners in the semifinals picked from a list of eight, and the finalists have five options, with just five days to prepare.

The finals are open to the public and get underway at 6 p.m. A ticketed fundraiser dinner, catered by the Spectrum culinary arts program, follows the event.