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From left: Branksome students Shraddha, Emma and Naz display the Nora McRae Public Speaking Tournament trophy for Deputy Principal Karrie Weinstock.
May 1, 2014
Senior Debaters Win Nora McRae
Disney princess conventions, intense Scrabble games, Greek internment camps…these are just some of the scenarios to which 40 judges were transported during the Nora McRae Public Speaking Tournament on April 26.

Hosted annually at Branksome Hall, the tournament attracts more than 80 junior and senior high school students representing 15 schools across Ontario.

"There is never a dull moment," said Giles Pinto, MYP Coordinator and one of the organizers. "The tournament is a fantastic expression of the school's commitment to public speaking."

As co-founder of debating and public speaking at the school, Nora McRae left a legacy at Branksome Hall. Mrs. McRae knew that public speaking was not for the faint of heart. How proud she would be of the event's continued success.

Judged by an assembly of alumnae, parents, teachers and friends, the tournament is an excellent showcase of students flexing their oratory skills across seven wide-ranging categories, some of which include Interpretive Reading, After-Dinner Speaking and Radio Newscast.

Grade 11 student Naz Gocek, who read Death by Scrabble by Charlie Fish—the story of a disgruntled husband and wife duking it out in a Scrabble game—was named the top speaker in the Senior Division and helped Branksome earn first place in the team category. Other members of the Senior Team, coached by Sarah SAHAGIAN'04, included Grade 12 students Emma Potvin and Shraddha Harshvardhan.

Throughout the day, students exercised their utmost creativity when performing their pieces. From After-Dinner Speaking, a category where the presenter speaks to a fictional group about their topmost issue following a gala dinner; to Radio Newscast, where the presenter had 30 minutes to scan a newspaper and pull out the stories they wished to report on, each speaker exercised fluidity and wit in their pieces.

Other highlights of the tournament included entertaining After-Dinner Speeches. These included a student addressing the four principles for being the best Barbie doll, a Disney convention with the premise "queens do not need a king to rule," and a reading of Margaret Atwood's There Was Once that had the audience in stitches.

The Senior Division trophy was captured by Branksome Hall, followed by Villanova College and Appleby College. In the Junior Division, Havergal College and White Oaks Secondary placed first and second, while Branksome Hall finished third.

Congratulations to all the participants!

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