Like a fleet of F-15 Raptors, the St. Mary’s Speech team swooped into the tournament stirring up a storm; be it with Shakespeare, humorous sections of plays, or originally written and gripping speeches intended to persuade and inform, our Speech Titans led the pack of orators in nearly every category. The Kanto Plain Speech Contest of 2013 marked the day St. Mary’s International School finally took home the trophy after coming an agonizingly close second for the past two years. The students participating in the Multiple Reading category took home All-Star awards for the fourth time in the last four years. In addition, recognition should be given to dedicated senior Vitaly ‘Vit’ Banov who led the team to victory with his double All-Star (one for Multiple Reading and the other for his Humorous speech). Nevertheless, though individual contributions must be mentioned, it was undoubtedly St.Mary’s’ team consistency (we also won numerous gold and silver awards, topping every category) across all categories which propelled us to our 5-point win over 2nd place host school Seisen. We would also like to extend our sincere congratulations and gratitude to the Speech coaches Ms. Gordon, Ms. Ramage, Ms. Fernicola, and Mr. Lamb, who worked extremely hard to share their deep passion for rhetoric with the members of the team.
Yet, keeping St. Mary’s’ remarkable success in mind, one cannot help but ponder on the overbearing question, ‘what is the importance of public speaking and what does it mean to St. Mary’s students?’ This question was effectively answered during the Diplomat’s encounter with senior Ryo Nagai. When asked what public speaking means to a St. Mary’s student and why it is important, he astutely replied, “public speaking is an important asset in life. You will need it everywhere. Job interviews, college interviews, or simply talking to someone new comfortably, all require a talent of public speaking. St. Mary’s’ win shows that the students are well prepared for the world and all are confident with their knowledge.” So, for you worried parents: do not worry, your child is in good hands!
In the same manner, the Diplomat took this victorious time as an opportunity to venture out into the school and converse with some St. Mary’s students to truly discover what the Speech contest means to them and what it shows about our school. Senior Nate Klein, who has been an integral part of our school for 12 years, gave a thoughtfully articulated and hit-the-nail-right-on-the-nose answer. The primary reason for St. Mary’s’ win after a draught of 3 years was, “preparedness; that was the main reason… I saw them all the time, practicing in rooms and sometimes as a team. They were prepared for everything.” Indubitably, Nate made a good observation. Though St. Mary’s students have shown time and time again that they are indomitable when it comes to academic prowess, many of the Speech team members were not fully native speakers of English. Thus, in the case of this year’s tournament, it was the team’s individual as well as collaborative dedication, desire to win, experience (though the team was relatively new this year, long-time stalwarts were always there to guide the fresh, upcoming talents), and most of all, preparedness, rather than a purely natural command of the language, which made it stand out from the rest. Then, the Diplomat got into a fascinating discussion with aspiring senior Jae Yoon Jung. Ultimately, we all realized that at St. Mary’s, be it in our academics or ourcore values in general, public speaking is an essential skill the school and its students display. The majority of, if not all, classes involve the student participating and voicing his ideas daily, for assessment/grading, if not completely of his own choice. Thus, if a St. Mary’s student has been learning through our education system for a large part of his school career, the school’s win should come as no surprise. Instead, the question should be, why don’t we outstrip other schools in speech as frequently as we do in a myriad of other fine arts extracurriculars?!
Hopefully, the school will resoundingly take the right step forward in the near future by learning from the correct answer to this question, making this year’s joyous win look like a cake walk.
Photos taken by Yuhki Komano.