Not even the vagaries of a wheezing Central Line could detract from the glitz and glamour of the final of the Chrystall Prize for Public Speaking.
English teacher, Mr Viesel accompanied Cerys Cooksammy-Parnell, winner of the regional semi-final, and Mariam Ziada, whose own speech on the importance of hope had been pipped to the post by Cerys some weeks earlier, to Notting Hill & Ealing High School.
Cerys opened proceedings with a superbly delivered speech on young people’s political engagement. In her speech, Cerys outlined the distinction between young people’s lively, active interest in political issues and their relative lack of engagement in the formal political process. Her speech was entertaining, informative and warmly received. Subsequently, the judges particularly highlighted the seemingly effortless skill with which Cerys built a rapport with the audience.
Four other finalists were in competition for the annual GDST-wide prize that rewards the best speech by a girl in Year 11 across the Trust’s 24 schools. Topics ranged from the human right to choose what one wears to the vexed question of whether we get the politicians we deserve (supporting Hamlet’s rhetorical question that if we only get what we deserve, “who should ‘scape whipping”).
The girls’ speeches were judged by the two veteran broadcasters, Stephen Sackur and James Coomarasamy, as well as the GDST’s Chief Executive Cheryl Giovannoni.
All five competitors were impressive, thoughtful speakers. We were therefore delighted that against such a strong field Cerys achieved Northampton High’s best-ever result by taking second place.