On Friday 9th March, five talented students competed in the final of the GDST Chrystall Prize*, a public speaking competition for Year 11 pupils from across the Trust.
After battling through a number of heats to get the final, which was held here at NHEHS, the finalists faced an impressive panel of judges: Stephen Sakhur, the award-winning BBC presenter; Jane Garvey, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour; and James Coomarasamy, BBC television and radio presenter.
The challenge was to talk for up to seven minutes on their chosen topic, followed by three minutes of questioning from the audience.
The five finalists did not shy away from tackling controversial issues. Serena from Newcastle High School for Girls, opened proceedings with ‘The truth is overrated’ and she was followed by Ashley from The Royal High School, Bath with ‘Feminism has gone too far’, an apt topic for the week of International Women’s Day. Streatham & Clapham High School’s Elizabeth posed the questioned ‘Is there any magic left in the world?’, whilst Flossie from Notting Hill & Ealing asked ‘Should statues be removed if they offend current sensibilities?’ Josie from Croydon High School closed the final with her speech, ‘Does social media have a detrimental effect on young people’s mental health?’
The judges were deeply impressed with the quality of the arguments put forward and the poise and composure of the speakers. They awarded the runner’s up prize to Flossie, praising her thoughtful and persuasive style, while the winner’s prize and trophy went to Serena with a special mention for her warmth, humour, lightness of touch and success in engaging her audience.
*The Chrystall Prize is named in memory of Chrystall Carter, long-time Legal adviser to the GDST. It was set up by her husband, Richard, in her memory and to mark her commitment to the girls in the schools she represented, her pleasure in their success and her belief in the power of reasoned argument.