Students Excel at World Individual Public Speaking and Debating Championships in South Africa

Kerstin Wyndham-West, Debating and Public Speaking Coach, Faculty
For the past 11 years, CDS has qualified at least one student every year to join Team Canada’s contingent of 14 students at the World Individual Public Speaking Championships. This is a significant accomplishment, as CDS is only one of two Canadian schools to have done so. This year’s host was Bishop’s Diocesan College in Cape Town, South Africa, an independent school for boys, with a spectacular campus situated at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

The 2018 competition involved over 130 students from 10 countries participating in four events: Impromptu Speaking, Interpretive Reading, Persuasive Speaking and Impromptu Parliamentary Debating.

This year was a banner year for CDS as three students qualified to take part in the prestigious tournament. Maeve Tebbutt ('19), Anaïs Leiva von Bovet ('19), and Anna Croxon ('20) all made the cut. Anaïs was the Overall Champion at IISPSC and Maeve qualified with her third place finish at the Canadian National Public Speaking Championships. Although Anna was not able to make the trip to South Africa this year, her 4th place finish overall at the IISPSC and excellent showing at the Nationals in Winnipeg in February, certainly leave the Grade 10 student well placed for next year.

The gruelling competition took place over the course of eight days in April, and both Maeve and Anaïs received praise for their Persuasive speeches. Maeve spoke about the plight of babies born to mothers addicted to opioid pain-killers, and Anaïs offered some solutions to the worldwide epidemic of child marriage.

Maeve was a Finalist in Impromptu Speaking, where she finished in 4th place, and she received a trophy for her impressive 8th place finish overall. While Anaïs narrowly missed making Finals in 3 out of 4 of her events, her finish in the Top 30 overall was impressive, considering that this was her first year of competition in any public speaking event.

The trip to South Africa was an extremely educational one. In between rounds of speech and debate, students had the chance to visit important historical sights, such as Robben Island – including a tour of the prison where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 18 years before the abolition of apartheid. They soared to the top of Table Mountain, learned about the water crisis, and they watched as locals collected extra water supplies (above the current 50 litre daily personal ration) from a natural spring close to the tournament hotel. They witnessed socio-economic divisions in South African society from the informal settlements to beautiful Cape Town suburbs, and they learned about the unique Fynbos and Karoo biomes.

Public Speaking as an extra-curricular activity grows in popularity every year at CDS, and this year over 50 students have participated regularly after school and in tournaments, and the School remains committed to supporting this incredibly important activity as part of the its encouragement of ‘Education With Balance’. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Speech is power. Speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.

Kerstin Wyndham-West
Debating and Public Speaking Coach, Faculty

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13415 Dufferin Street King, Ontario L7B 1K5
(905) 833-1220
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Founded in 1972, The Country Day School is a co-educational private school offering programs in JK-12 and located on 100 acres north of Toronto in King.