Meriden girls impress at Festival of Speech

31 October 2019

Meriden was proud to host the AHIGS Festival of Speech over the weekend and congratulates all its students who contributed to the School placing fourth overall out of twenty-five entrants. Two of our girls, Liliane Spratt and Adele Dang, took out first and second places in their respective categories.

The annual Festival of Speech invites the Association of Heads of Independent Girls’ Schools member schools to attend with the aim of encouraging girls to excel in various forms of debating and public speaking. Each school may enter a single entrant into Poetry, Public Speaking and Readings categories, with separate events for junior and senior students. Each school may also enter a team of three students in the Current Affairs and Religious and Ethical Questions events.

On the day, Meriden students showcased their abilities to speak confidently and with conviction to a diverse audience and demonstrated a strong knowledge of the issues confronting contemporary Australia.

Liliane Spratt, Year 10, performed with eloquence and control, taking out the top spot in Senior Readings, with a passage from the Bible and an article on news and political affairs journalist, Stan Grant. 

Adele Dang, Year 9, was the runner up in Junior Poetry, where participants were required to deliver two poems, a memorised recitation and an impromptu reading of a poem selected by the adjudicator with three minutes’ preparation. Adele captivated the audience with her rendition of a complex poem by Sylvia Plath.

She said she auditioned to be part of Meriden’s Festival of Speech team because she felt the event would push her out of her comfort zone and help her to learn valuable skills.

“The Festival of Speech is an important event because it allows young women a platform where they have a voice and where they can speak with the confidence that people are listening,” Adele said.

“It is important for us to learn to be articulate so that we can move through the world as respected contributors to our communities.”

Public speakers Freja Newman and Esther Michail, who was placed fifth in the Junior Section, cautioned their listeners about the dangers of science and technology without the accompaniment of ethical considerations, while our entrant in the Senior Poetry section, Teresa Ho, placed fifth for her presentation of a piece which illustrated the way in which second generation Australians experience a hybrid of cultures. 

Joanna Kontogiorgis, Christiana Stone and Metilda You were members of Meriden’s team in the Religious and Ethical Questions category, where they placed fifth. The students were required to do an in-depth study of a recent article which explored whether the use of big data and AI surveillance technologies by governments was a help or a hindrance to democratic values. The girls answered a series of six questions from the adjudicators, clearly expressing the key ethical and religious dilemmas raised in the article, whilst demonstrating extensive research into the broader social and political context of the issue and examining a range of perspectives.

Meriden Principal, Dr Julie Greenhalgh, said the Festival of Speech modelled to all young women that their views matter.

“The event celebrated the voices of young women, who demonstrated that they can bring reasoned, thoughtful and compassionate ideas to complex contemporary issues because they are knowledgeable about, and invested in, the world around them,” Dr Greenhalgh said.

“It is my hope, as I am sure that it is the hope of all the AHIGS Principals, that our girls continue to use language as a means of service to others. May the skills they are refining at school serve them well as they develop strong voices of compassion and leadership that allow them to effect positive change in their communities.”

Click here to view more photos from the day.