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Learning about Positivity, Overcoming Self-Doubt… and Fertiliser
Karen Hartshorn


The 2017 Declamations Cup, given to the best overall public speaker in Form 4, was awarded today to Nell Woollen after a hard-fought competition.

Organised over the course of the term by Head of English Mr Matt Coolin and Deputy Head of English Ms Vicky Bryan, Form 4 pupils had already competed in previous rounds within their English classes to make the finals.

The final eight presented their prepared speeches to their peers, teachers and three guest judges in the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel. The topics were diverse, ranging from Reality TV to Pay Inequality to the use of Fertiliser in Agriculture.

Perhaps in a nod to the College Flag Values of resilience and moral courage, several pupils chose to speak about overcoming obstacles and remaining positive. Oscar Hancock based his confident presentation on the Power of Positive Thinking. Emily Greenwood explored the four basic human emotions of sadness, anger, happiness and fear. Georgia Paterson gave a moving and personal account of her family’s approach to dealing with cancer, for which she was highly commended by the judging panel.

The winner, Nell Woollen, spoke eloquently about overcoming self-doubt and low self-esteem. She backed up her brave personal story with well-researched statistics and evidence of the impact of self-doubt on teenagers.

“Speakers were judged on both the content of their speeches and strength of performance,” said Mr Will Williams, Academic Deputy Head and one of the judges. “All three judges were impressed at the clear, confident delivery of the finalists, their depth of research and preparation, and how well they interacted and engaged with their audience.”

Not only public speaking was on display. While judges retired to deliberate the winner, two current Form 4 musicians played a solo each: Laurence Livesey played a movement of Mozart’s French Horn Concerto No. 4 in E-flat Major, while Grace Spalton played Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G minor, Op.23 no. 5.

The complete list of finalists and their topics:

Nell Woollen – Overcoming Self-Doubt (Winner)

Georgia Paterson – Dealing with Cancer (Highly Commended)

Harry Goodenough – The Use of Fertiliser in Agriculture

Emily Greenwood – Human Emotions

Oscar Hancock – Positivity

Henry March – Pay Inequality

Daisy Naylor – The Grenfell Tower Fire

Elise Szala – Reality TV


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