TWO students from Coláiste na Toirbhirte in Bandon emerged outright winners at the recent local heats of the Soroptimist International Public Speaking Competition.
Held at Bandon Grammar School, a total of 22 speakers from several schools took part with Cora Higgins and Ailbhe Guedan selected as winners on the night.
Head girl and Leaving Cert student Cora chose to write her speech on ‘Peace and Democracy’ and felt it was very relevant in today’s world.
‘With everything going on in Ukraine and Iraq at the moment, it was a topic that I just really felt passionate about discussing. It’s so important for my generation to be informed about world affairs and to use their voice and I feel so lucky that competitions like this gives us the chance to do so,’ said Cora.
This sentiment was shared by TY student Ailbhe, whose speech focussed on the need for action regarding climate change.
‘I think we’ve all seen that the time for talking is over and what’s needed now is a change of mindset and meaningful action. That was what I really wanted to get across in my speech – the fact that each one of us can make small changes that will ultimately have a huge impact on our planet,’ said Ailbhe.
The Soroptimist International competition, first set up in 1981, aims to encourage girls to develop a more prominent role in public life, effective communication skills and by extension, their self-confidence and personality.
Principal Mary Galvin said she is delighted to see so many of the school’s students getting involved in the competition.
‘It’s fantastic to see the girls developing such important skills that will stand to them both now and in later life. We’re hugely proud of all of our students who performed so brilliantly, but it’s the girls’ confidence, passion and willingness to take part that is just wonderful to behold,’ she said.
Both Cora and Ailbhe will now progress to the regionals round in this three their competition, which will be held in Cork in January. During this round, competitors have the additional task of delivering an impromptu speech, with only two minutes of preparation time.
Teacher Nicole Keating, who is working with both students acknowledged that the next round will be that bit more demanding for competitors.
‘The impromptu speech is definitely a challenging element, but I’ve every confidence that the girls will rise to the occasion – they’re fantastic ambassadors for the school and for the wider community as a whole,’ she said.