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March 26th 2024

The power of persuasive speech in the Greenman competition

On Friday 9 February, the final of the annual Blackheath High School Greenman competition took place, in which student finalists from Year 6 to Year 12 performed speeches on a range of intriguing topics. This year there were speeches on topics from ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’ to ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ and ‘Social media is making humans lazy’. All the finalists had already competed against their class and year group, with two girls from each year getting into the final. The sheer range of skills required by each finalist made it a real feat! To stand in front of an audience and perform an engaging, emotional speech that conveys an element of persuasion is an incredible challenge, and every finalist performed great speeches that were individually so very powerful.  

The competition was split into two categories: Junior (Year 6 to 8) and Senior (Year 9 to 12). The extremely high standard of every individual speaker was incredible to watch. The younger years produced speeches of a very high standard and their finalists argued with skill, confidence and determination. The winner of the younger category, Phoebe (Year 8), explored the powerful concept of retrieving animals from extinction and the impact this could have on our society - such a current topic, which she explored thoroughly and with profound eloquence. The way in which she took the audience on an emotional journey was awe-inspiring and I learnt so much listening to her speech.  

The Senior category had many more incredible finalists who each executed powerful, persuasive speeches on topics so large to address, and with a high level of engagement - many even performing their speeches completely off-by-heart which was amazing to watch! 

The experience of performing my speech for the motion ‘The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword’ was a nerve-wracking, but incredibly rewarding experience, which really developed my confidence and skill in public speaking and persuasive speeches. The process of writing, learning and performing a speech on a topic I had chosen, was such a wonderful opportunity. This led me to discover wonderful poems on the subject, by the likes of Dylan Thomas in ‘The Hand that Signed the Paper’, and Mariska Taylor-Darko’s ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’, as well as reading the speech the inspirational Malala made on the topic at the UN. The breadth of skills I developed from this process was amazing and I am so grateful. 

This remarkable competition, which expands the skills of every Blackheath High School girl, is run by the English department, with Mrs Beecham creating a wide range of great topics for us to explore. The final was adjudicated by Head of English, Ms Chandler, and alumna Zoe Hadsell who is currently reading English at Kings College Cambridge. Together they provided amazing, tailored feedback to each finalist - a great opportunity for all of us to improve. Thank you to everyone who organised this event and congratulations to all the finalists on their amazing speeches! 

Written by Lauren, Year 12 

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