Finalists in the Rotary District 9660 Public Speaking Competition have been praised for showing exceptional talent.

The finals were held at the district conference in Tamworth at the weekend and students were supported by families from across the North West.

The finalists were asked to deliver a five-minute speech on a topic of their choosing, referencing at least one part of Rotary’s four-way test.

They then had two minutes to prepare a two-minute speech on the topic of ‘my hero’.

St Mary’s College Gunnedah representative Lewis Donaldson spoke about the power of learning a second language.

He delivered part of the speech in French and said learning a second language was of significant benefit to cognitive ability.

Lewis referenced academic studies.

“Our communities and businesses are becoming incredibly diverse,” he told the crowd of 400 gathered at TRECC.

“We are missing out some things due to our reluctance to speak a second language.”

Lewis said studies had shown a second language was beneficial to job and pay opportunities.

For his two-minute speech on ‘my hero’, he delivered an impromptu talk on Nelson Mandela.

He said it was during a course in modern history and learning about Apartheid that he developed an appreciation for the South African leader.

Similar to Mandela, Lewis wants to make a lasting, positive impact on society.

While he didn’t take out first place, the audience applauded his speeches, particularly in two languages.

He was congratulated by representatives from Gunnedah’s two Rotary clubs as well as teachers from St Mary’s College who were present on the day. 

Dubbo representative Isaiah Luckensmeyer took out first place in the competition. 

Isaiah and Lewis were joined by two other competitors – one from Newcastle and another from Armidale at the final.

One of the competition’s judges, Narelle Lyon, said the panel was blown away by the level of talent of the competitors.

“I am confident that we are looking at the leaders of tomorrow,” she said. 

The Public Speaking Competition formed part of an action-packed conference line-up.

Former Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove was one of the keynote speakers on the Saturday morning.

Sir Peter primarily spoke about conflicts and the need for peace.

Boggabri farmer Andrew Watson addressed the gathering on Sunday morning.

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