Legion holds speaking competition, draws chuckles

In her speech, Skye Newman encouraged people to change the world by being more kind. VOICE PHOTO


The Royal Canadian Legion’s Fonthill branch held its annual public speaking contest for local students on Sunday, with eight speakers competing in two divisions. Coming in first in the junior division was A.K. Wigg student Regan Hildebrandt, whose piece about being a youngest child drew repeated laughs from the crowd.

“Sit back, relax, and listen to me complain,” she said near the beginning of her speech, making it clear that her knowledge of the topic came from her own experience.

Hildebrandt said that youngest children are often believed to be, “just a little more important than the dog,” and that all of her clothes and hockey equipment are hand-me-downs.

“Even the mouthguard. Garage sale.”

While Hildebrandt was evidently only half-serious for much of her speech, she flashed a deeper perceptiveness. Youngest children are always being toted around to their siblings’ games and recitals, she said, while by the time youngest children have events of their own their siblings are old enough to stay at home alone.

“Or they’ll figure out a way to not go, with all their years of experience,” she said.

By the time the youngest children come around, everything they do seems entirely unimpressive to their parents.

“When the youngest child starts walking, it’s just, ‘One of the kids is walking.’”

The winner of the intermediate division, Anderson Cecchini, made a strong argument to the crowd against stereotyping, while survival techniques were extolled by Tyler Anderson, who spoke on camping trips, and by the day’s first presenter, Isaac Khan, back at the Legion for the second year in a row after his speech on Winston Churchill last year. He began with a laundry list of reasons to ready yourself for the apocalypse.

“Look to the east, and there’s Kim Jong Un talking about his nuclear button. Look to the south and there’s Donald Trump talking about how his button in bigger and works better. Look to the north and there are polar icecaps melting,” said Khan, who recited his speech without notes.

All of the speakers breezed through their five or so minute long presentations with few or no glances at cue cards.

A reference by one speaker to Queen’s song “We Are the Champions” prompted the Legion’s Jim Garner to remind everyone present that all eight students were champions, since they had “gone out of their comfort zone” to present.

Jacqueline Schwenker, who has organized the event for the past four years, said that the four Legion members judging the contest would be hard-pressed to pick a winner from the contestants.

“The speeches are always so great,” she said, explaining that Sunday’s winners will move on to another round of competition.

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