Toastmasters hold competition for Valley high school students to mark Canada 150

Published on April 16, 2017

Max Chonva, left, and Cameron Clarke were the second and first-place winners, respectively, in the Canada 150 Challenge held by the Toastmasters recently.


BERWICK, NS - Toastmasters International issued a challenge recently to Valley high school students celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

The competition was left wide open – the only restriction was that it focus on Canada’s 150th birthday - allowing the two competitors, Cameron Clarke and Max Chongva, to have creative liberty with their speeches.

Toastmasters International has a fresh approach to start a competition. Opening the competition, the designated humourist will tell a opening joke and explain the competition's rules. The speeches were to be no more than six minutes and no less than four.

Clarke and Chongva both brought very well-organized and entertaining speeches to the competition. Clarke’s speech was centered on ‘why you should be proud to be Canadian’ and Chongva’s speech was a letter to Canada. This was presented by a well-placed ‘Dear Canada’ repeated throughout the speech.

Chongva , 15, is a student at West Kings and won second place. “I feel good it was actually a much lighter atmosphere than some of the (competitions) I’ve been to because some…get quite intense as you get onto the stage,” he said. “My favourite part was just how friendly it was, like you could be yourself.”

Chongva’s been competing at public speaking events since Grade 7.

“My English teacher actually approached me, and since I was the only public speaker from our school, she made me interested,” he said. “Public speaking is really good and I genuinely hope more kids get into it as youth progress so there is more diversity in the competition.”


Great support

The judges helped create a good atmosphere at the event, including Carrie Yeo of Kentville; Katherine Ford, vice-president of Toastmasters in Berwick; Bernie Tracey of Waterville; Kathy Doe of Kingston and Eddie Murray of Bell Isle.

“I was a little concerned for a while we were just going to have the one (competitor) but it was good we had two,” said Murray.

This was one of the only concerns, as the judges had many good things to say about the competition, Toastmasters and the competitors.

“They could’ve done anything with their spare time, and the fact that they were willing to spend an evening and do this and apply themselves to something at a young age is impressive,” said Yeo. “I’m 44 and I'm just starting to do these kind of things.”

For Ford, the best part of the competition “seeing the variety of the competitions in contrast” and how the topic was developed in each competitor.

“I thought it was encouraging to see young high school kids put themselves out there and develop their speaking skills and participate in our speech competition,” added Doe.