Wednesday, 12 August 2020


Students deliver a winning performance at speech contest

The creative and confident performances from four eloquent Mercury Bay Area School students ensured the school once again won the Thames-Coromandel Speech Cup the week before last. MBAS participates in the district-wide competition every two years and is a regular winner of the cup.

Tom Lamason (Year 6), Isabella Penwarden (Year 6), Maria Davenhill (Year 7) and Danielle Davis (Year 8) all scored highly at the competition held at Parawai School in Thames on Friday, 13 September.

Danielle was also the overall winner of the Year 7/8 category, with Maria taking third spot.

“There were 27 entries in our category, representing 12 different schools, so we were excited to take two places,” Danielle told The Informer. “Then when they announced that our school had got first place, it was the best,” added Maria.

The students had worked hard to secure the honour of representing their school, getting in plenty of speech-writing and delivery practice along the way. “First we had a class competition, then the winners from the different classes went into a second round and from there we got selected,” said Danielle.

Despite being comfortable speaking one-on-one and in group situations, Danielle and Maria admitted that the formal competition setting was nerve-racking. “I was definitely a bit nervous in the beginning and I was speaking a bit fast, but I relaxed after a while and I was okay,” said Maria. Danielle’s winning speech focused on reality television and how it influences body image.
“I was researching speech topics online when an E television advert popped up. I started thinking about the people we see on reality television, the lack of diversity and different body types. So many of the people look the same, it’s really fake, but yet millions of us follow these people on social media. I have always had an interest in positive mental health and I definitely think that what we see on reality TV influences us in a negative way,” she said.

Maria’s inspiration came from her dad. “Mine was basically a day in the life of a live bait fish. My dad and I were trying to think of speech ideas and he told me he had often felt a bit sorry for the live bait when he went fishing,” she said.

Maria then actually went out fishing, including some hands-on experience in using live bait, in order to get some perspective for her speech. “I even had a prop that I called Nemo and I talked about the fish getting tortured and wriggling about when it was getting put on the hook and then hanging around all day wondering if a big fish or even a shark would come along and eat it. In the end, it got eaten by a shag, which was pretty funny and made the audience laugh,” she said.

The four MBAS students had around a week to prepare for the competition and were judged on content as well as pace, engagement with the audience and eye contact during their three to four-minute speech. Danielle and Maria were also impressed with the variety of topics that featured during the competition. “There were lots of unique ideas so it was really interesting and a lot of fun,” said Maria.

Pictured: The four Mercury Bay Area School students who won the Thames-Coromandel Speech Cup the week before last. From left to right - Tom Lamason, Danielle Davi, Maria Davenhill and Isabella Penwarden.


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