The RK Irons Public Speaking Contest is perhaps more eagerly anticipated than St. Mark’s Day games during the spring term. Named for a well-loved former faculty member, the competition occurs over two nights, with students expected to master two different styles of public speaking. On the first night, students present a memorized speech of no more than ten minutes. Competitors can use monologues from movies or plays, excerpts of speeches, poems, or other written material. Three finalists are chosen by three faculty judges; finalists are then invited back to the second round, where they present an extemporaneous speech. Given a prompt and ten minutes of preparation, the finalist must attempt to speak with conviction and develop a clear argument or cohesive position. This year, 15 students competed with speeches that ranged from George Clooney’s opening monologue in the movie Up in the Air to a recitation of The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Alan Poe.
The finalists were Alexis Ciambotti ’14, whose first-round selection was a soft and haunting recitation of the Gettysburg Address. In the second round, Alexis made the case that the study of grammar is vital. Hugh McGlade, whose first-round selection was a rousing monologue given by actor Jeff Daniels in the television show Newsroom, discussed media censorship on television during round two. Zach Kosnitsky ’14 chose the poem “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth for round one, which he recited in a deft and subtle manner. In the second round, he challenged the notion that volunteerism adds value to the important work of school.
The winner, Hugh McGlade, was announced on Prize Day. Congratulations to all—the judges were challenged every step of way by creative and well-prepared contestants.