Country Schools Gather for Podium Contest

Belltrees Public School student population increased significantly earlier this month when students from around the district gathered to contest the Invermein Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Forty students from Murrurundi, Martindale, Sandy Hollow and Ellerston travelled to Belltrees Public School to contest the annual event which is a highlight in the school year, especially for the senior winner, Rosie Baker from Ellerston Public School.

“I love it, it is my favourite day of the year,” an excited Rosie told The Hunter River Times after taking out the senior event.

Animals and pets were a hot topic of conversation throughout the speeches and Rosie was no different, speaking about cats and facts you may not know such as their capacity to communicate.

Rosie is convincing when she says her cat can actually speak and often says thank you.

“She really does,” she told a sceptical reporter.

Runner up in the senior category was Finn Mamone who spoke about Elvis Presley.

Stage two winner was Zoe Ayre-McCann from Sandy Hollow and highly commended Bella Brown from Martindale.

Stage one winner was Jessica Davis from Murrurundi Public School and highly commended was Sienna Hayne from Ellerston Public School.

Early stage one winner was Ayra Jain from Murrurundi Public School, highly commended went to Paige Ayre from Sandy Hollow Public School.

The successful speakers will now go on to the zone level of the competition at Muswellbrook South Public School.

Belltrees Public School principal Shane Roberts said events such as the public speaking competition brought students from small schools together and were important to broaden experiences and friendships.

While students overcame nerves to give their speeches their best shot, it was the impromptu category for seniors that put them to the test.  They had five minutes to discuss the topic and five minutes to prepare their speech.  Event organiser Laura Bellamy asked the students to discuss the impact of digital technology in the classroom.

The four impromptu speakers all agreed that the impact is a negative one.

“It makes you anti-social, grumpy and tired and you are constantly distracted by phones or devices,” Rosie told her audience.

Belltrees Public School student Angus Taylor said education was a once in a lifetime opportunity and all students should seize every moment they have in the classroom.

“Go hard or go home,” Angus beamed to his captive audience.

Adjudicators for the event were Lesley Moore, Cr Tayah Clout, Serena White, Sharon Bellfield, Jen Ditchfield and Di Sneddon.

Jen told The Hunter River Times she was blown away at the students’ presentations.

“I congratulate them all,” Jen said as she also commended the teachers for stressing the importance of structure and sequence in their speech deliveries.